Everyone has dreams of places they want to see, explore and chuck down from there bucket list in their lifetime. For many and if I am not wrong, at the top of that bucket list is the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. One of the best destinations to chase and explore northern lights is Norway and more northwards you drift to, the better the chances and luckier you get.
Hunting the northern lights is a sport that just every winter traveller can get behind. Watching this magnificent nature phenomenon Northern lights dancing and flickering in the sky is on the bucket lists of thousands. People travel from all over the world in the hope of getting a glimpse of the sky illuminated by spectacular displays of green, purple or pink and this was certainly on my list too, and I got my chance on a cold, clear night in Lofoten Islands.
What is Aurora Borealis?
Have you ever thought about what causes the appearance of Northern Lights and why it illuminates the sky in different colours? It occurs when electrically charged gas particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere and are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. The lights appear to be dancing across the sky and it comes in every shape and size. The most common colour seen is green but if you are lucky, you can see the sky light up like a rainbow in pink, blue, yellow and purple. The color of Northern Lights mainly depends and comes from the type of particles that collide with each other.
Where can you see it?
Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Norway, Greenland and Iceland in Europe, or in the Northwest Territories of North America, Alaska and Canada. Norway is the most accessible option. If sky condition is good and clear then you can see the Northern Lights all across Nordic areas.
Seeing the Northern Lights: My Lifetime Experience
It was our 3rd and final day in Lofoten Islands and we hadn’t seen the Northern Lights. On our first two nights, the excursions in search of the green light in the sky had been cancelled due to cloud cover and heavy rains and snow. But, on our last day, we got lucky to see sunshine with the fact that we surely be seeing the Northern Lights because of clear sky.
In preparation for the evening outing, we layered about every piece of woollen clothing we had from backpack and get ready for the thrilling adventure. We joined the group with our guide at 2100hrs and headed for Northern Light spot. After a short ride for about 15mins our Tour Guide addressed the group “That Northern Lights have been spotted.” A ripple of excitement rushed through us. Out the window, we could see a glowing thin green light covering entire snow clad mountains.
Beyond the road we arrived on, toward a mountain, we could see two distinct streams of lime green and Pink light in the sky. This was it. This is what we were waiting for. This is what we were chasing. We were seeing the Northern Lights in Norway with our very own eyes.
We scrambled to find a place to set up our cameras, as we needed complete stillness if we were to have any chance of getting a clear photo. Without a tripod, we would have to improvise. The ground was completely covered with snow and ice. But sooner we spotted a picnic table, cleared off the snow, laid our camera at angled towards the dancing Northern Lights.
The strip of green and pink lights expanded and brightened then dulled and brightened again. The light danced across the sky, silhouetting the mountain. It was like landing and watching into a fairy tale land. A million stars twinkled above us. Constellations were so intense that it brightened the entire sky and it was almost impossible to believe that we finally made our dream come true to chase and see northern lights in real. We watched until we were completely frozen and numb…which was about a total of 30-35minutes.
Want my advice for seeing the Northern Lights in Norway/Iceland/Lapland etc.? If you haven’t practiced your photography and unprepared for frigidly cold weather, forget the camera and simply enjoy the Lights in the sky. If you want the memory in a photograph, ask your tour guide to click one for you!