Spectacle in the Skies

Northern lights in Uttakleiv in Lofoten. Photo: Samuel Taipale, Visit Norway

A great place to see the northern lights is Tromsø, and this city is more popular in the winter than the summer mong tourists, despite the cold, for just this reason. All over Northern Norway you can see the northern lights all winter.

The northern lights have given rise to as many legends as people watching them. Now it’s more popular than ever. Northern lights tourism has skyrocketed in the past five years. The growth is expected to continue this winter with great weather conditions in sight. “It’s the conditions at the sun that determines the activity, and this season is looking very promising,” says Pål Brekke, scientist at Norwegian space center.

The total value of tourist traffic to Northern Norway from priority markets reached more than NOK 252 million last winter. Over the last five years, Innovation Norway has invested about 42 million in Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, the UK, France and Japan to establish Northern Norway as a priority Aurora Borealis destination. “It’s a success story where we have been able to create a demand and supply,” says Per Arne Tuftin, Director of tourism at Innovation Norway. People now associate Norway with the Northern lights.

Northern-lights-from-Reinebringen-Lofoten-012016-99-0003Northern lights in Reine, Lofoten: Photo: Alex Conu, Visit Norway

Northern-Lights-at-Otervika-Kvaloya-022013-99-0002_2200Otervika, Kvaløya in Tromsø. Photo: Gaute Bruvik, Visit Norway

The aurora borealis has been fascinating travelers to Norway and locals for generations, but what is the science behind the northern lights?

  • The conditions at the sun determines the northern lights activity
  • During large solar explosions and flares, huge quantities of particles are thrown out of the sun and into deep space
  • When the particles meet the Earth’s magnetic shield, they are led towards a circle around the magnetic North Pole, where they interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere. The energy that is then released, is the northern lights
  • All this happens approximately 100 kilometers above our heads
  • Aurora displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported

app nGet the app: Auroral Forecast displays weather, solar exposure and a star map from seven known northern lights observatories, and shows the position and extent of the Northern Lights up to one hour in advance.