Our Northern Lights Blog
A question we are asked almost every day here at The Aurora Zone is “when is the best time to see the Northern Lights?”. Now, when dealing with a natural phenomenon such as the Aurora Borealis, it is pretty hard to answer this question with any degree of certainty as its appearance can rarely be predicted accurately much more than a few hours in advance.
This is the 29th annual rendition of the hotel which saw 34 artists from 13 countries help to create the structure made completely of snow and ice. Nature is the inspiration behind many of the suites this year and we’re excited to show you the photos from the grand reveal.
The key thing to note about Coronal Holes is that they are one of the causes of solar winds which, in turn, cause the Northern Lights to appear in our skies. Although less violent than Coronal Mass Ejections (the other source of solar wind), they are more stable. So much so, that they often reappear 27 days after their first appearance on the surface of the sun.
If you read our blogs regularly then you will remember that we recently discussed why we really love Coronal Holes (if not you can catch up here). Not only do Coronal Holes produce high-speed streams of Solar Wind which often manifest themselves as the Northern Lights but they also help in predicting Auroral activity too.
If you are like us, then you will probably know the feeling of watching as the excitement builds and builds towards the 25th December before it crashes down again on the 26th- that is of course until the 31st December!
Now, we love a New Year’s party as much as the next person and some of the fireworks displays on offer can be wonderful. However, if you really want to celebrate in style and enjoy a light show like no other then there really is only one thing to do – book yourself a New Year Northern Lights escape!
Quite some time ago, we wrote an article debunking fears that the Northern Lights are set to disappear as the Sun approaches a period of reduced activity known as Solar Minimum. The article highlighted that yes, solar activity is likely to reduce but, happily, the incidences of Coronal Holes is expected to increase.
It may still only be October but the first snow has already started to fall in Lapland and winter is well on its way! Here at The Aurora Zone, this news fills us with excitement as in our opinion there is something quite special about chasing after the Northern Lights in spectacular snow-covered landscapes.
However, something that has to be even more special than hunting the Aurora in the snowy Arctic wilderness is the opportunity to celebrate Christmas in your very own winter wonderland on your very own festive Northern Lights adventure!
We are blue in the face from telling anybody who will listen that autumn is an excellent time to search for the Aurora Borealis. Scientific research and findings from various esteemed Solar Physicists repeatedly point to increased geomagnetic activity (and hence, Auroral displays) in the weeks around the autumn and spring equinoxes.
The big question therefore, is; has this new aurora hunting season started well?
Here at The Aurora Zone, there is nothing we want more than for our clients to have the best possible chance of witnessing the Northern Lights. One of the ways we try to optimise your chances is by learning all we can about the underlying science which causes Auroral displays (you can find out more about this on our website under ‘The Science of the Northern Lights’).
Timo Halonen and his wife Anne run Hotel Korpikartano an idyllic hotel in the breath-taking location of Menesjärvi in Finnish Lapland. Timo has a passion for photography and loves being out with his camera. We caught up with him after another fantastic Northern Lights season to talk about his love for photography and the magical Northern Lights.
For those of you that don’t know, the Sámi are the indigenous people of the Lapland region. They were semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who made their home in this unique part of northern Scandinavia approximately 4000 years ago, making them one of the oldest cultures in Europe.
The Northern Lights season may be at a close as summer draws nearer, but fear not the Auroras will not be gone forever. In fact, here at The Aurora Zone, we think that the beginning of the Northern Lights season in autumn is a pretty special time of year and arguably one of the best times to go on an Aurora hunting adventure.
Another Aurora hunting season is drawing to a close in Northern Scandinavia. The Northern Lights will still be visible well into April but, during the 24-hour daylight of summer’s Midnight Sun, all an Aurora hunter can do is catch up on lost sleep and long for the darker nights of autumn.
March 2018 has been one of the best months for Auroral activity in many a long year, so we did some digging. The upshot of our research is that if you want to see the Northern Lights then some of your best chances are almost certainly around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
The search for the Northern Lights is quite often described as a ‘hunt’, suggesting the magical lights are akin an elusive, endangered wild animal you’re hoping to catch a quick glimpse off in its natural habitat before it spots you and runs for safety. In my opinion, this isn’t far from the truth.
Tranquil Torassieppi in spring was everything it promised to be; a picturesque smattering of colourfully painted cabins scattered amongst a delightful woodland setting at the edge of a wide, deep-frozen lake. Here perched my "glamping" accommodation; an Aurora Dome, a kind of luxury man-made snow globe where I would be cocooned for the night.
Have you noticed that there has been far less mentioned in the media recently about Auroral displays over the UK and yet pictures of the Northern Lights taken further north continue to flood onto social media sites?
This is exactly what we said would happen in our blog back in November and given that we are dealing with something as unpredictable as Mother Nature, we are prepared to give ourselves a hearty pat on the back.
If you were lucky enough to enjoy one of our Northern Lights holidays to Muotka or Nellim this winter you will be familiar with our representative Ben. We caught up with Ben and here’s what he had to say.
How many times did you see the Northern Lights this winter?
Too many times to count. Every show is different which is what makes it so unique and special. For me, the times when I enjoy them the most is when I can see the different colours and the incredible movement. When it's like that it can't fail to send shivers down your spine.
Credit: Marrku Inkila
The essence of the article was as follows:
“One strange side effect of the equinox is a dramatically increased likelihood of auroras………….
NASA data shows that geomagnetic disturbances are twice as likely to occur around the equinoxes (March-April), (September-October) than around the solstices. Why? The answer is likely the same reason for the season: axial tilt."
(Image taken 17/03/16 by Antti Pietikainen)
This winter Katrina Seator has been working as our representative in Finland, looking after our Aurora Zone clients who were staying in Harriniva and Torassieppi. As this season draws to a close we asked Katrina to tell us about some of her favourite experiences of the season and for any top tips for our future travellers.
Dog Sledding and the Northern Lights in Greenland
As Product and Operations Manager here at the Aurora Zone, I have been a regular visitor to the more northerly and remote corners of Finland, Iceland, Sweden and Norway for many years. At first, the thought of travelling to places that lie north of the Arctic Circle was somewhat daunting but with growing experience it is something with which I have grown very comfortable and I occasionally found myself digging around for evermore remote places to visit.
Our forefathers believed that the Northern Lights were anything from spirits of the departed to vanquished warriors to the gods themselves.
Some saw the lights as a portent of good, guests travelling to a celestial wedding for example but, in the main, the lights were generally associated with something more malevolent.
We’ve been looking through our vast library of images to illustrate just why our ancestors held the Aurora in such reverence. Here are a few examples.
A Very Angry God?
That is one very, very frightening face reflected in the mirror like waters of the Paatsjoki River in Northern Finland.
I love my job because it takes me to my favourite part of the world, Northern Scandinavia on a regular basis.
I’ve been to Norway, Finland, Sweden and Iceland on numerous occasions and at many different times of year.
I love the autumn colours and the mind-fuddling 24 hour daylight midnight sun of the summer months. I love the heart of winter when the days are short and the grey/blue light of the Polar nights predominates. I love early January when the sun reappears above the horizon and bathes the snowy white landscapes in a pink glow.
Most of all however, I love early spring and whilst I travel to Scandinavia on business at any time of year, I always holiday there in middle to late March.
Cloud cover is the Aurora chaser’s worst enemy.
If the sky is cloudy you won’t see the Northern Lights, simple as that. However, this is also one of the reasons that Abisko in Swedish Lapland is one of the very best places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis.
In terms of topography and meteorology, Abisko is blessed by a happy combination of favourable winds and cloud-dispersing mountains which work in tandem to create some of Northern Scandinavia’s most cloud-free skies.
I work for a Tour Operator called The Aurora Zone and one of the best aspects of my job is searching for the Northern Lights.
Katrina- Aurora Zone rep
Here at The Aurora Zone, we know how important it is to have someone on hand to answer any questions or queries you may have during your holiday. For this Northern Lights season, the lovely Katrina has been our rep in the resorts of Harriniva and Jeris in Finnish Lapland. So we thought we’d catch up with her to find out how her first winter in the Arctic went.
Late last summer we speculated as to whether the 2014/15 Northern Lights season could match those of the previous two years which had delivered some unforgettable displays.
In June 2014, NASA confirmed that the Sun had reached the peak of its current solar cycle and, rather excitingly, geophysical research suggested that the declining period of a solar cycle often coincides with significant solar events. There's nothing that gets an Aurora hunter more excited than increased solar activity so we thought we would ask a couple of the best in the business to review the season so far. It seems that it has more than lived up to expectations.
Markku Inkila lives near Ivalo in North East Finland and is, without any doubt, one of Scandinavia's most knowledgeable and enthusiastic Northern Lights guides. We asked him to sum up the season using his own words and a couple of images:
This autumn was crazy, 12 nights straight and we saw the Northern Lights every night. During the winter we have seen lights every clear night and that is awesome! There has been lots of talk about solar maximum that was supposed to be last year and the year before, but the thing is that we are in the middle of the "aurora zone" so it doesn't matter what year it is, we see them nearly every day when it's clear sky.
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