The Northern Lights is a spectacle as strange as it is beautiful. These sumptuous green trails leave a lasting impression on the spectators who are lucky enough to attend. Enjoy a unique experience on a customized Northern Lights trip.
Due to a relatively complex phenomenon, they mainly take place in Lapland, particularly in Iceland.
What is the aurora borealis?
The Northern Lights have been the subject of many fears throughout history. In ancient times, the elders were convinced that these were manifestations of the gods’ anger. In fact, the explanation is more rational: the sun sends atoms and ionized particles into space. The earth is protected from these “solar storms” by a layer called the magnetosphere.
But this layer is not present in the regions close to the “magnetic zones”: the North and South Poles.
The atoms therefore enter the atmosphere, and are heated by friction as they enter. That’s what creates this impressive chemical phenomenon.
The hue of the aurora borealis varies according to the gas with which the solar particles collide: the green aurora borealis, the most frequent, comes from the collision of particles with oxygen, about 100 kilometres from the earth. The blues and reds are due to friction with nitrogen, two hundred kilometres from the earth.
When to go to Iceland for the Northern Lights?
Two conditions must be met to witness the Northern Lights during your tailor-made trip to Iceland in ideal conditions: a very clear sky and a particularly dark night.
In Iceland, they take place between October and March. However, it is in the heart of winter that you will have more chance to admire the phenomenon in all its splendour.
The Northern Lights are usually most visible around midnight.
Be careful to choose your moment: the full moon can cause natural light pollution and play on contrasts.
As for the weather, this is of course a crucial criterion. Indeed, if the sky is cloudy, the show will be less intense. Be aware that the Northern Lights are also driven by solar activity. Some specialized apps will show you the possibilities of seeing the Northern Lights depending on the weather: we strongly recommend that you download them, they are intuitive and can be very useful.
Please note that the average duration of the aurora borealis in Iceland is ten minutes. So stay focused and get your cameras ready, the show is usually short!
A few tips before leaving for Iceland for the Northern Lights
If you want to take full advantage of the phenomenon, the first thing to do is to move away from urban areas. Indeed, in the city, you risk being confronted with “light pollution”, i.e. lights emanating from homes, cars, public spaces, etc.
You also have the opportunity to admire the Northern Lights on a cruise. A very original way to contemplate the natural phenomenon. Be careful though, you won’t be able to take a picture with a tripod from the boat.