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Northern Lights Season

Questions about the northern lights? We have the answers!

January 9, 2020

Northern Lights Season

Questions about the northern lights? We have the answers!

January 9, 2020

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights or aurora borealis are caused by solar storms and cosmic rays from the sun which interact with the oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere. The cosmic rays are steered to the northern and southern poles by the Earth‘s magnetic fields. This results in a spectacular light show in the northern and southern hemispheres and our dark winters are precicely why seeing the northern lights in Iceland is an unforgettable experience.

Colours of the northern lights

GREEN

Green is the most common colour, but red, yellow, orange, purple and blue are regularly seen. The colour of the lights depends on the concentration of oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere. Green is the most common colour of the aurora borealis. It is due to the fairly high concentration of oxygen atoms in the atmosphere and the eyes’ ability to perceive the green light.

RED

The top of the northern lights curtains sometimes appear to be red. This is due to the low concentration of oxygen atoms and the low capability of the eyes to perceive light at this wavelength. It is only possible to see the red colour when the lights are very active.

YELLOW, ORANGE AND PINK

Pink or yellow lights can sometimes be seen when the activity is high. The colours appear as a mix of green and red or green and blue. Occasionally, the northern lights seem orange in colour, but yellow-green is the most common of these colours.

BLUE

Blue colour is usually at the bottom of the curtains. Oxygen atoms are less common there and ionised molecular nitrogen produces light instead. When solar activity is at its highest, you can see the blue and purple emissions at the lower edges.

When is the best time to see northern lights in Iceland?

The Aurora Forecast

When the sky is dark and clear. Obviously the aurora activity varies from day to day but getting away from any light pollution enhances the experience and sets a dark stage for this amazing light show. While the northern lights are active all year round, Iceland is known for its midnight sun in the summer and darkness in the winter. On the shortest day of the year, 21 December, Icelanders only get about four hours of daylight. One of the benefits of this prolonged darkness is the aurora borealis. Northern lights season in Iceland is anywhere from September until mid-April during which our team of expert guides study the weather and aurora forecast to prepare for a variety of daily northern lights tours.

Northern lights folklore

Before electricity people had to endure the pitch-black darkness, from which many legends and fables spun. The light was considered good, and it was important not to disrupt the equilibrium of nature. It was believed, for example, that pointing at the stars would result in a ship sinking or someone close to you to die.
Apart from enjoying the northern lights, people predicted the weather by deciphering their movement and activity. Some believed that if the lights were almost still in the sky, they foretold calm weather and clear skies. But if they danced a lot, a storm was coming.
Others believed it was dangerous to watch them too much and that you could go insane.
Not everyone agreed on their folklore, with some believing that if the lights had a red hue it foretold bad news, especially a volcanic eruption or war, while others said that red northern lights meant great news were coming or that it was going to snow.

No matter what you believe, we can all agree that the northern lights are a sight to behold and seeing them dance across the sky is always a unique experience.

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Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira.

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Things to do in Reykjavik

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Northern Lights Season

Questions about the northern lights? We have the answers!

January 9, 2020

Northern Lights Season

Questions about the northern lights? We have the answers!

January 9, 2020

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights or aurora borealis are caused by solar storms and cosmic rays from the sun which interact with the oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere. The cosmic rays are steered to the northern and southern poles by the Earth‘s magnetic fields. This results in a spectacular light show in the northern and southern hemispheres and our dark winters are precicely why seeing the northern lights in Iceland is an unforgettable experience.

Colours of the northern lights

GREEN

Green is the most common colour, but red, yellow, orange, purple and blue are regularly seen. The colour of the lights depends on the concentration of oxygen atoms in the upper atmosphere. Green is the most common colour of the aurora borealis. It is due to the fairly high concentration of oxygen atoms in the atmosphere and the eyes’ ability to perceive the green light.

RED

The top of the northern lights curtains sometimes appear to be red. This is due to the low concentration of oxygen atoms and the low capability of the eyes to perceive light at this wavelength. It is only possible to see the red colour when the lights are very active.

YELLOW, ORANGE AND PINK

Pink or yellow lights can sometimes be seen when the activity is high. The colours appear as a mix of green and red or green and blue. Occasionally, the northern lights seem orange in colour, but yellow-green is the most common of these colours.

BLUE

Blue colour is usually at the bottom of the curtains. Oxygen atoms are less common there and ionised molecular nitrogen produces light instead. When solar activity is at its highest, you can see the blue and purple emissions at the lower edges.

When is the best time to see northern lights in Iceland?

The Aurora Forecast

When the sky is dark and clear. Obviously the aurora activity varies from day to day but getting away from any light pollution enhances the experience and sets a dark stage for this amazing light show. While the northern lights are active all year round, Iceland is known for its midnight sun in the summer and darkness in the winter. On the shortest day of the year, 21 December, Icelanders only get about four hours of daylight. One of the benefits of this prolonged darkness is the aurora borealis. Northern lights season in Iceland is anywhere from September until mid-April during which our team of expert guides study the weather and aurora forecast to prepare for a variety of daily northern lights tours.

Northern lights folklore

Before electricity people had to endure the pitch-black darkness, from which many legends and fables spun. The light was considered good, and it was important not to disrupt the equilibrium of nature. It was believed, for example, that pointing at the stars would result in a ship sinking or someone close to you to die.
Apart from enjoying the northern lights, people predicted the weather by deciphering their movement and activity. Some believed that if the lights were almost still in the sky, they foretold calm weather and clear skies. But if they danced a lot, a storm was coming.
Others believed it was dangerous to watch them too much and that you could go insane.
Not everyone agreed on their folklore, with some believing that if the lights had a red hue it foretold bad news, especially a volcanic eruption or war, while others said that red northern lights meant great news were coming or that it was going to snow.

No matter what you believe, we can all agree that the northern lights are a sight to behold and seeing them dance across the sky is always a unique experience.

RE61
RE62Full

Blogg

Fáðu innblástur! Upplýsingar og góð ráð, áhugaverðir áfangastaðir, skemmtilegar staðreyndar og margt fleira.

What to do in Reykjavík

Things to do in Reykjavik

Lesa blogg