A NATURAL LIGHTSHOW
In Vesterålen you can see the Northern Lights from September until March. The phenomenon can be observed on the night sky in a belt around the magnetic poles – the Northern Lights oval. The Aurora Borealis often looks like a dancing light, moving in waves of different shapes, colours and level of brightness, from dark blue through green and yellow, and the occasional red or orange. It is possible to spot the colour display on any clear night in
areas with low levels of light pollution. If you wish to learn more about the phenomenon you can visit Spaceship Aurora, and gain a more science based understanding of the northern lights.
NORTHERN LIGHTS ACTIVITIES
To see nature’s own lightshow dance across the sky is an experience in itself, but combining it with an activity makes chasing the Aurora infinitely more fun. Come along to the best local
areas to see Northern Lights and enjoy cosy moments by the campfire as you wait, or stay warm through a headlamp lit hike. For photo enthusiasts it is possible to get an introduction on how to capture the arctic light on camera. When the snow is covering the ground, an evening walk in snowshoes makes for a fun way to chase the magical phenomenon.
THE AURORA AND SUPERSTITION
The word «nordlys» or «nordurljos» first appears in «Kongespeilet» (a Norwegian saga) from ca.1239 AD. Throughout history many have seen the northern lights as both magical and
frightening. In the olden days it wasn’t unusual for northerners to interpret the flaming lights in the skies as a bad omen, and the stronger the light, the worse the future was. One way of provoking or poking fun at the Aurora was brandishing a white cloth or sheet. One should never laugh at the Northern Lights either, because then you could be paralysed. Some people however, believed the lights to be a good weather indicator and called them «weather lights» or «wind lights».
FACTS ABOUT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
- The Northern Lights phenomenon occurs when solar winds hurl electrically charged particles towards earth. The particles are electrons and protons which create light when they collide with the gases in the atmosphere.
- The colours of the light reflect the gases found in the atmosphere. The yellow/green colour comes from oxygen. Red also comes from oxygen, but mixed with nitrogen. The violet/pink colours around the edges of the Northern Lights come from nitrogen, as does most of the blue.
- The Northern Lights occur between 90 and 180 km above the earth’s surface.
- The phenomenon in the northern hemisphere is called Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights, and in the southern hemisphere it is known as the Aurora Australis, or Southern Lights.