Why seeing the Aurora Borealis should be on your bucket list

If you’ve not yet made your bucket list or are in the process of doing so, seeing the Aurora Borealis in the flesh should be pretty near the top.

Otherwise known as – and often called – the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis is one of nature’s most spectacular lightshows and is much more impressive than anything you’ll see on Bonfire Night or at New Year.  Some of the peoples around the countries where you can view the lights from believe they’re caused by gods or are the spirits of their dead ancestors or unborn children. In reality, they’re caused by an aurora, or charged particles entering the atmosphere from above which causes ionisations. The lightshow effects becomes visible when the earth is at certain latitudes.

But enough of the science. They have to be seen to be believed. The Northern Lights are best seen between September and April in clear, dark skies. Usually they show up most clearly from 5pm in the afternoon until 2am in the morning. Anywhere in the Arctic Circle is a great place to see the lights as they help form what’s known as the auroral oval.

When we carried out a survey recently to ask people which destinations were on their bucket list, Aurora Borealis was the top answer…

So what can you expect when you see the Aurora Borealis? Usually you’ll witness a band of glowing green and yellow lights that appear to dance in the sky. Sometimes there’ll be multi-coloured lights that don’t move but cover a much larger area than the other manifestation. Different weather conditions lead to different light shows and how long they last, which can vary from a few minutes to hours on end.

Whichever form of the Northern Lights you see, it will be a fantastic experience. Some people even describe it as humbling and spiritually uplifting.

Make sure you bring a camera with you when you visit. Not only to use as evidence when you tick the trip off your bucket list but also to capture the beauty of the occasion. Don’t rely on your phone for the snaps though as most smartphones don’t have a powerful enough camera. Even better is to try and video the display so you can relive it time and time again.

aurora borealis, northern lights

Photo courtesy of Ómar Smith(CC Attribution)