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The Northern Lights

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The science and the myths

These spectacular light shows are created by solar flares erupting on the surface of the sun. These high energy streams of particles are generally known as solar winds. These winds travel towards the Earth, pulled by the magnetic field and collide with the gases in the ionosphere. It is these collisions which create the Northern Lights that we see dancing across the skies and put simply the height at which the collisions take place determines the colours that we see on the ground.

Whether we see the Northern Lights from Earth is determined by the direction of the solar winds and whether the particles enter our atmosphere. How far south they can be seen is loosely determined by the intensity of the initial solar flare.

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Importantly, though, the weather can have a huge influence when it comes to hunting for the Northern Lights. If the skies are cloudy then sadly the show above will not be seen by those below. These factors all showcase why there is no such thing as the 'best place' to see the Northern Lights or indeed the 'best time'. If we could predict such things we would be very happy people. Thus, our guests must always travel in hope, rather than in expectation of seeing the Northern Lights. Have no fear, though – there are plenty of other exceptional experiences to enjoy as you wait for the Aurora.

It is hardly surprising that such a myriad of colour lighting up the polar skies created quite a stir amongst the inhabitants who lived in the region before any scientific explanation could be provided. Many myths and legends have come to pass over time. Anyone using a certain aptly named web browser will be intrigued to hear the origins of the phrase 'Firefox' are from a Finnish legend that talks of a fox whose tail swept across the skies and created the Northern Lights and in Iceland they were seen as warriors who were engaged in a vicious combat with mortals.

Searching for the Northern Lights

For those who wish to catch a glimpse of the Aurora then there are a few basics to consider. Firstly you need to position yourself within the Aurora Zone – all of our Northern Lights holidays are within this zone you will be thrilled to hear.

Secondly, you should consider getting away from artificial light pollution – towns and cities are certainly not the best places to view the Northern Lights and luckily our holidays are all based in small lodges and wilderness regions, far from any significant light.

Thirdly, mobility is key. If there is cloud cover then you need to try and escape it.

Lastly, we think that local knowledge plays a hugely important role.

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The locals know the best viewpoints; they monitor the conditions and they always seem to have some secrets up their sleeves. Our local guides are ideally placed to help to show you the Aurora.

As the Northern Lights can be a tad temperamental and are never guaranteed. It is vital that guests choose their holiday based on the non-Aurora elements. We feel it is best that you imagine which holiday will provide you with the most wonderful experiences, regardless of seeing the Northern Lights. This is why our holidays contain incredible activities such as dog sledding, snowmobiling and reindeer safaris – all of which are spectacular in their own right. Add in some log cabin accommodation perhaps or a spa hotel and you are sure to have the most memorable holiday.

Our travel experts have all visited our destinations and will be happy to discuss their Aurora sightings and share their knowledge of the holidays to ensure that you choose the right holiday for you.

If the Northern Lights are the central reason for you to travel then you may want to explore our sister company's website at

All the holidays created by The Aurora Zone are dedicated solely to helping you see the Northern Lights.

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