Iceland is an excellent place from which to view the Northern Lights. Named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas, the ancient Greek personification of the North Wind, they are at their most intense in a circle around the North Pole and are best viewed on the long dark nights between September and April.
So what causes this spectacular natural phenomenon? The solar wind – a stream of electrically-charged particles emitted from the sun at speeds of between 300 and 1000 km per second – is the ultimate source of the Northern Lights. They result from collisions between these solar particles and high atmosphere gases. These excite the gases’ atoms causing the release of photons, or light particles.
In Norse mythology, the lights were believed to be reflections from the armour of female warriors, whereas in Finland they were the sparks from the tail of the Firefox running across the snow. Today, there is still a strong belief that the Aurora bring good luck to children and many visitors from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia make their way north in winter to try and experience them.
Without a doubt, the Northern Lights are a sight worth seeing, and with some preparation and planning it’s not impossible. There is definitely a bit of luck involved which makes the whole experience even more special when the night sky repays your patience with a spectacular display. Whatever our ancestors made of them, the night sky in Iceland is every bit as beguiling as ever and it’s not just the Aurora. With the naked eye it’s easy to spot shooting stars and satellites overhead, and with a guide or a good App on your phone, you’ll soon be picking out the constellations too. We’ve been delighted to manage a shooting star and the Aurora in the same shot. Hoping for a good sight of the aurora and a great group picture is always we something we aim for on our journeys in Iceland!
To find out more or simply enjoy this amazing spectacle, why not start making some plans? Mix sightseeing in south Iceland with a Northern Lights programme or stay in the Icelandic countryside for a few days…