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MAIN Arrow to TravelTravel Arrow to Tourist AttractionsTourist Attractions Arrow to Iceland Travel InformationIceland Arrow to Northern LightsNorthern Lights

Northern lights over northern Iceland
Spectacular northern lights display of the
Aurora Borealis over Northern Iceland.

Imagine the night sky filled with sheets of dancing light in startling greens, purples, reds, yellows and blues.

The colors swirls together or one dominates and fills the air with an unearthly glow. It may be difficult to visualize stars twinkling through a haze of green, but that is what you'll see if you are lucky enough to catch the show when the Aurora Borealis puts on a display.

Iceland is one of the best places on earth to catch the Northern Lights.

How to see the northern lights

In late autumn and late winter to very early spring (mid-March at the latest) the conditions are the best for spectacular displays.

In major tourist centers like Reykjavik, it is possible to catch sight of the northern lights, but tour operators will usually head north for the surrounding countryside. This is to get away from city lights and therefore increase the odds of showing you a more intense, vivid show.

Since northern lights viewing is sometimes curtailed by a full moon, check the moon phases that are predicted to occur around the time you plan to go before you book a tour.

Also be sure to book at least several months in advance. These nighttime outings remain hugely popular -- even without a guarantee from tour companies that the northern lights will appear at all!

While winter and early spring remain the best time to see the northern lights, sightings in Iceland have been reported as late as mid-August. So when in Iceland, be sure to look up at the night sky whenever and wherever you happen to be. You may get lucky.

Meanwhile, online you can also find out the latest Iceland Aurora borealis forecast to see how good your chances really are.

Iceland's northern lights
Tours from Reykjavik whisk visitors away to an unforgettable view of the Northern Lights.


What causes the northern lights

What ancient wanderers imagined were omens of doom (or the gods battling in the heavens) has a modern scientific explanation.

The northern lights are actually the result of interaction between the earth's electromagnetic field and violent solar winds emitted from the sun. Storms on the sun's surface provide the most spectacular displays, and the most active storms can produce lights as far south as Italy in Europe and Virginia in the USA.

Suffice to say that it doesn't really matter how much you understand the science behind this phenomenon, It will still take your breath away....

More about the northern lights around the Web:

 

 

The Northern Lights by Porter Johnson - Section by section this site will answer your questions on how, when and why the Aurora Borealis dances through the night skies. Good links add depth and additional info if you want more.

The Aurora Page - From the folks at Michigan Tech - a few photos of the Aurora Borealis and a great set of links to sites that can help you forecast where the Northern Lights will be dancing. The forecasting sites may a bit technical for your taste, but they are fun to check out.

How to photograph the aurora borealis with a digital camera - This is not a job for a point and click camera, but if you have a good digital you can get some stunning images. This site goes into details on how to keep the battery working in cold weather and recommends hand warmers - a must for working with your camera in seriously cold weather.

 

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