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Image by Andrey Andreyev

When, where and how to chase the northern lights


Winter is the season for the northern lights,  natures most spectacular light show. That is what we think at least. Northern Norway is one of the worlds best destinations to experience the magical natural phenomenon, and for this reason we receive visitors from all over the world. The lights latin name is Aurora Borealis. 

A winter phenomenon

The northern lights are technically happening throughout the year, but for us to be able to see it we need it to be dark and preferably a clear sky. The winter season is for this reason the best time to experience the light show.  Are you coming to Bardufoss to experience the Northern lights we recommend that you visit in the period October to April. 

Where to see the northern lights?

There has been many creative explanations for what causes the northern lights through the years. The actual explanation is that the northern lights are a result of solar flares which releases charged particles, some of these enters our atmosphere and collides with gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere. When the particles collide energy is released and as a result we see the lights.  


The charged particles are drawn towards the earths poles, where the magnetic fields are strongest. You are for this reason a lot more likely to experience the lights close to the north pole, then called Aurora Borealis or northern lights or by the south pole. then called Aurora australis or southern lights. Your are most likely to experience the Northern lights on Iceland, southern Greenland, northern Canada and north Alaska, in addition to Northern Norway between Lofoten and Nordkapp. The northern lights are once in a while also seen further south.  

The colours of the northern lights

The colours we see dancing over the sky depends on the type of gaseous particles the charged particles react with. The composition of gases varies depending on the distance from the earths surface. The colour we see for this reason depend on the height the collision happens, e.g. if the charged particles react with oxygen in a height between 95 and 241 hm, then we will see a green colour. If the collision with oxygen happens further up in the atmosphere you will see a redish colour. Blue and purple are less common, but can be seen if the charged particles react with nitrogen (most often on lower heights) Yellow and pink are a mix of the colours. 


The reaction normally happens at approx 100km height, and green is thus the most common colour to see. One must also take into account that our eyes sees green more easily than other colours. The colours of the lights can therefore look a bit different when you look at the pictures you took. 

Are you ever guaranteed to see the northern lights?

Unfortunately, We can never offer a 100% guarantee that you can experience the magical northern lights, as it depend on solar activity and the weather. One can however keep an eye on the forecast that tells you about solar activity. The higher the activity the greater the chance to see the lights. 

To be able to see the northern lights its best to be outside of great cities and areas with a lot of light pollution. Many photographers do however appreciate to have a source of light in the picture. As earlier explained, the northern lights are best seen when its dark. We recommend the time between 9pm and 2am. One must often have a little patient, we suggest bring some hot cocoa and warm clothing. 

Experience the northern lights in Bardufoss

When you visit us you will receive a northern light guide when you arrive, this includes the best places around the town to experience the northern lights, the forecast of solar activity and thus the northern lights and some interesting facts about the lights. If you prefer some help  to find the best spots we can also book you your very own guide. It is also possible to experience the northern lights while participating on evening activities such as dog sledding or Arctic Truck. Then you have a fun activity to do while you wait for the northern lights. 


Keep in mind that there is a chance to see the lights even if it overcast, as you never know when the sky will open up a bit.  

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