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  • Writer's pictureJan Noordermeer

5 facts about the Northern Lights

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? The beautiful colors floating through the sky with a snowy landscape in the background and a beautiful starry sky make it a magical moment. No wonder they used to attribute this to the Gods!

What exactly is the Northern Lights?

Northern Lights, Polar Lights or Aurora Borealis is a special phenomenon. The story of the Northern Lights starts with the sun. Did you know that the sun is 400x larger than the moon and that the sun is constantly sending electrically charged particles into space? They call this a solar storm. A small part of this solar storm ends up around our earth. The charged particles are guided to the polar regions by magnetic field lines. The particles then come into contact with oxygen and nitrogen atoms at the poles and this generates energy in the form of light. This gives the beautiful Northern Lights in the colors green, red, yellow, pink, purple and white light in the sky. Insane right?

1 | Gods and magical creatures

In the past, the Northern Lights were attributed to gods and magical creatures. The Swedes were convinced that it was a fire-breathing mountain in the North Pole, intended to illuminate and warm the north. According to the Sami (the original people of Lapland), the northern lights were there to compensate for the polar night when there is no sun and in many countries they were thought to be ghosts of the deceased.

2 | Aurora Borealis

Galileo Galilei gave the Northern Lights the Latin name Aurora Borealis, which means 'Meeting with the Gods'. Where Aurora is the Roman goddess of the morning light and in Greek means Borea, Northern Wind.

A fire-breathing mountain in the North Pole, intended to illuminate and warm the north.

3 | Aurora Australis

Because the particles gather around the poles, there is also this phenomenon at the South Pole and it is called 'The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.

4 | Northern lights colors

The Northern Lights are always different. You see the green color most often, it is located lowest in the atmosphere. By the way, your camera can capture more light with a slow shutter speed and a tripod, so you can see different colors more quickly.

5 | Conditions for the Northern Lights

Northern lights are visible all year round. But there are a few conditions to be able to see it:

  • It must be dark. in the summer the sun no longer sets, which is why winter is the best time to spot the Northern Lights.

  • There shouldn't be that much cloud cover. The phenomenon takes place at about 80 km to 1000 km above the earth, so far above the clouds.

  • A solar storm must be heading our way, because without the charged particles there are no Northern Lights.

  • The magnetic field that causes the Northern Lights is strongest between 66 and 69 degrees north latitude. Now it happens that our house is at 67.9 ° north latitude and it is therefore a top place to see the Northern Lights.

Curious about this special phenomenon? Book your trip quickly.

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