Aurora Borealis features highly on the bucket lists of many travellers and avid explorers. Back in January, we wrote a post about visiting the Northern Lights which explained how we have entered the 'Solar Max' period and the year 2013 being the best time to see the lights in 50 years. In this post, we are going to share some travel tips and advice for those of you who are planning a Christmas or Winter trip to try and catch a glimpse of this beautiful natural sight.
They are unpredictable. The best time to get a chance of viewing them is on a clear night, during September to April at any time from 6pm to 6am. An Aurora forecast can be helpful is planning the best times to see the Lights, however even then these can be unpredictable and inaccurate at times. Sometimes the forecast may say that there is high activity and you will not see a thing, whereas on the other hand it could say no activity and they will be clearly visible. You just have to be open-minded.
The Arctic weather can change suddenly and like the Lights themselves, is unpredictable. You may end up waking to a perfectly clear sky only for it to change to rain, snow, sleet, sunshine again and finish off with high winds. This is pretty normal behaviour within the Arctic Circle. Clear skies do hold the best viewing times for the Northern Lights, although again we must stress that they are unpredictable and you may find that a heavy snow brings them to the sky.
Effort is essential when planning your trip as there are different places that provide the optimum chance of viewing them. Tour guides are a great way to make the most of your Winter trip if you are not sure of the best place to begin your search for the Lights. They have been chasing them for many years and know all the best places to go.
The lights are not always green, but in fact can be an array of different colours including hues of reds, pinks, blues, greys and even whites. The naked eye can see the green colour the easiest, however you may find that a grey colour against white clouds does not show up very well (and may even appear to be non-existent!) Cameras sometimes can pick up a stronger image of the Lights in these kinds of situations.
Don't be disappointed if you do not get to see the Northern Lights on your Winter trip. It is important to remember that you should not travel for the Lights alone, but instead for the destination. If you travel to a cold place purely to see the lights, you may feel disappointed and this can inevitably put a downer on the entire trip. Have the thought in mind that if you are lucky enough to see them, it is an added bonus to your holiday.
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