Guest Post by Yogi and Suchna of The Villa Escape
The origins and basics of Northern Lights
The northern lights are triggered by the solar wind. They occur when a jet stream of highly charged particles (coronal mass ejection) slams into the nitrogen and oxygen molecules in the upper atmosphere of the earth. This results in those charged particles glowing like naturally fluorescent strips across the hemisphere. Since these solar particles gather along the magnetic field of the planet, the phenomenon is strongest in a ring formation which forms approximately 1,500 miles from the magnetic poles.
The displays can take many forms such as pulsating globs, steady glows, rippling curtains, etc. The color can also be affected by altitude. The colors seen in Northern lights are pink, green, blue, violet, yellow and red. Usually, collision with oxygen produces yellow and green colors are emitted where as clashing with nitrogen produce red, violet and at times purple or blue.
It can be seen in many countries in the northern hemisphere, but residents of Norway can see them more clearly. In the Northern Hemisphere, places like northern Siberia, Scandinavia, Sweden, Greenland, Iceland fall within the aurora zone. The northern zone of Canada and Alaska are also covered.
When is the best time to see them?
The Northern Lights actually exist for the majority of a year, but are not always visible to the naked eye. Your location and weather conditions play important roles to their visibility. They are more visible during the winter months and from September to March, the sky in the Arctic region remains dark enough for people to see the lights without issue. The lights appear roughly between 5pm to 2 am. They can appear for 5 to 30 minutes and on rare occasions up to an hour. Cloudy sky and warm temperature can be deterrents. In Alaska or Greenland they can be seen throughout the year.
Can you predict when you will see the Northern Lights?
There is no clearly defined way to predict the appearance of the northern lights. However, those spending winter months in Norway can be assured of witnessing the natural extravaganza. However, there are a few forecast methods such as the KP index. University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute has a website that can be useful for this purpose.
Do the Northern Lights have any impact on life on Earth?
The occurrence of this amazing celestial and natural phenomenon usually does not leave adverse impact on human life or on other species. However, certain animals, possibly can sense its occurrence even when humans cannot see the lights. At times, you can find dogs barking at the sky. After some time the display becomes visible. The Northern Lights typically occur so high up that they do not cause harm to humans. However, electrically charged particles may affect airplanes flying at really high altitudes and radio magnetic waves.
Mythology inspired by the natural wonder
Like many other natural phenomena, northern lights have also inspired myths in the arctic region. The Vikings have associated these celestial lights with Bifröst, while the Sami tribe in northern Norway used to think these lights are spirits with supernatural powers. They also believed these lights with oratory powers. On a realistic note, the powerful electrical field emitted by the lights may cause noises near the ground.
A once in a life time experience
Most backpackers and travel hippies will agree that the Northern lights is an experience you must seek out at least once in a life time. The bright lights far away in the horizon against the black backdrop of the night will leave you stunned and mesmerized and transport you to a magical world. If you have never witnessed this before, be sure to plan your next vacation to Alaska where you can see this beautiful phenomenon first hand.
Yogi and Suchna believe in taking the road less traveled and stumbling upon some hidden gems along the way! For over a decade, they’ve mapped their way across various continents, sniffed out unusual routes, discovered new flavors and stayed at quirky hostels. TheVillaEscape is their expression of soul travel. To check Northern Lights Trip you can catch up with them at TheVillaEscape.