Northern Lights Northern Lights

Northern Lights

The Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis is the most enigmatic light show on earth, a spectacular natural phenomenon. The name Aurora Borealis is made up of the name of the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas, and it was Pierre Gassendi, a French mathematician and astronomer, who coined this name in 1621.
Iceland is one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world to do photography with aurora borealis. The sky seems to glow with rays or curtains of light of green, blue, yellow or faint red/pink and even violet tints, with their shapes constantly evolving and changing, presenting a spectacular display of light show that leaves the viewers spellbound.
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. The shape of the lights depends on the shape of the magnetic field lines and the location of the observer. If the observer is farther south, then the aurora it will appear near the horizon, if he is directly beneath it, it will be seen overhead. Lights that are located directly above often appear more as rays than curtains because of the position of the viewer.
The Northern Lights are visible from September through April but can only be seen on a clear night. Usually seen between 5pm and 2am, it is important to be away from artificial light. No month guarantees better sightings than another but December to February offer the longest hours of darkness, while the months of autumn and spring are likely to offer more stable weather conditions and often see more aurora activity.
According to NASA, the Northern Lights will display at their greatest intensity since 1958 in 2012. This is due to the scientific phenomenon the Solar Maximum, which is on an 11-year cycle.
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 Iceland is an ideal Northern Lights hunting destination, as the only place in the world where the lights can be seen throughout the whole country.  Due to its modern infrastructure and excellent location, midway between Europe and the United States and with direct flight routes from both continents, the country attracts thousands of tourists annually. You can stay in Reykjavík to see the spectacular lihts, or venture outside and increase your odds. A 30-minute drive from Reykjavík is usually far enough. The geothermal pools that dot the Icelandic countryside are excellent places for aurora-spotting, especially when it's really cold. Also you may choose the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Golden Circle. It is a fantastic spot from which to watch the Aurora Borealis dance across the wide open plains and over the rift valley, but even when the lights are absent, the dramatic lava fields and the view to the lake Thingvallavatn, under the soft light of the moon is an amazing sight. You may either join a tour, which start from about €30.
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