Everything you need to know about the Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, is undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular natural wonders – a blackened sky punctuated by a rainbow of neon colours which flutter and flirt with one another. 

If you’re both intrigued and amazed by the Northern Lights, here’s all you need to know about them:

WHY do they occur?

WHY do they occur?

It’s impossible to explain the phenomenon without getting scientific. Put simply, the Northern Lights occur when the sun’s electrically-charged particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and collide with its gaseous particles.

These collisions can take place from 60-400 miles above the Earth’s surface. For instance, the most common hue – a pale, yellow-green – is created by oxygen molecules situated around 60 miles from Earth. Whereas the red tones are formed by high-altitude oxygen around 200 miles up in the sky.

WHEN is the best time to see them?

WHEN is the best time to see them?

Anyone interested in witnessing the Northern Lights will want to know when the best time to see them is. You stand the best chance of catching the light show in all its glory between the months of September and April, as these are the darkest months. However, this is also a time when the weather is at its most unpredictable – cloud, rain and snow storms could spoil your chance to catch a glimpse of the lights.

WHERE are the best places to see them?

WHERE are the best places to see them?

You may think the city is an unsuitable place to see the Aurora Borealis due to light pollution. However, close to the capital of Reykjavik are many secluded areas that make the ideal viewing platforms from which to admire the light show. You can even see them during an evening walk in the city of Reykjavik.

As tour company Arctic Adventures explains, Northern Lights hotspots in and near Reykjavik include the Grótta Lighthouse, which looks onto the ocean; Öskjuhlíd, a woodland area and hill near the centre; and Reynisvatn, a remote lake located a stone’s throw from the city. If you’re planning on making Reykjavik your base during your time in Iceland, why not book a stay in one of our stylish hotels? Every hotel is ideally situated within walking distance to a range of popular restaurants, shops and local attractions.

HOW do I get to the Northern Lights hotspots?

HOW do I get to the Northern Lights hotspots?

HOW do I get to the Northern Lights hotspots? While it’s relatively easy to make your own way to the vantage points, you could sign up to a tour with a company such as Arctic Adventures. Guided by local experts, these tours are an excellent opportunity to gain unique insights into the Northern Lights and other Icelandic wonders, meet new people and make lifelong memories.

A few, final tips…

●     No doubt you’ll want to capture some photos of the lights – make sure you set your camera to high-res before aiming it at the skies. Shooting in long exposure may also pick up some colours undetectable to the human eye.

●     Capturing photos with your camera is important, but don’t forget to step away from the tech and soak in the spectacle with your real eyes! Appreciate being there, in that moment, bearing witnessing to the truly magnificent sight.

●     Be sure to wear (or pack) warm clothes; Icelandic winters can be quite chilly!