Have you ever thought how to increase your chances to experience northern lights?
We all want to see this magic, and not just once, many times, and not just a small show, a real big show in the sky, just like we all saw it in the last picture on Instagram or facebook or from your friends phone who made the last visit. Well let me tell you few facts and realities to expect when you plan a journey to chase the auroras. But for this magical experience you need a careful planning without getting trapped with commercial chases and promises. Make sure you have time and patience to stay put, also prepare to stay away from crowds, away from lights and choose locations/resorts that will create better opportunities. Nevertheless, if you plan it right, you will not just see it once, but more than once, even if it’s a small show (as big show in the sky happens very few).
Firstly, understand the theory behind these lights
An interesting science behind these Northern Lights will surely enlighten you, so don’t just experience them, you should know the reason how they happen and why only at certain locations in the world. Sun plays a vital role in this story, as auroras are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere where the charged particles get released from the sun's atmosphere. As the temperature above the surface of the sun is millions of degrees Celsius, collisions between gas molecules are quite frequent and explosive. Free electrons and protons are thrown from the sun's atmosphere by the rotation of the sun and escape through holes in the magnetic field. These get thrown towards the earth by the solar winds, and the charged particles are largely diverted by the earth's magnetic field. However, the earth's magnetic field is weaker at either poles (north/south pole) and therefore some particles can enter the earth's atmosphere. These collisions emit lights in the sky that we perceive as the dancing lights of the north (and the south).
Why you see these colors in these lights
Majority of aurora displays that we see are green in color as the human eye detects green more readily than other colors. What we see as changes in the color of these auroras is due to the type of gas particles that are colliding with the earth’s surface. Oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth produce the most common aurora color, a pale yellowish-green. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora, which are seen less frequently as they tend to appear when solar activity is high. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles.
Does the right timing play a role?
Though the northern lights period begins from September and extends till end of March, but it’s difficult to state that out of these months which is the best month to experience these lights. The long periods of darkness, cold chilly temperatures and the frequency of clear nights provide many good opportunities to watch the aurora displays. Therefore its not just the game of snow and luck, it is much more, which is called calculated planning. Our experience says that it also depends on the number of days you are staying and where you choose to stay.
Calculated planning will increase the chances
Make sure you have minimum 12 nights in these locations for you to experience the auroras one or more times in these days. You may miss to see them as few days can be very cloudy everywhere, so even if you are preplanned to go for a chase, it may be a waste of time and money. It’s better to go for a private chase if the forecast is good. Also staying at off the beaten locations, away from city lights is always the best choice.
And if you are willing to go for a long drive, make sure you are ready to drive 4 to five hours to find the right spot where you may see an opening of these auroras.
How to spot the lights before you see it with your naked eyes
Well the answer is right in your hand, and that is the camera of your mobile. With few good phones, you can actually spot the green color opening in the sky, which also helps you spot the difference between the cloud & the auroras. Also we succeeded doing this, so you may try too. To add on, you can download various available apps, which will help you on the forecast of the auroras. Just follow the current KP index and how likely you are to see the Northern Lights on the given app. The Kp-index describes the disturbance of the Earth's magnetic field caused by the solar wind. The faster the solar wind blows, the greater the turbulence. The index ranges from 0, for low activity, to 9, which means that an intense geomagnetic storm is under way. And sometimes, truly speaking with experience, the forecast can also surprise you by changing in the last minute and you may just get lucky.
Beyond the Northern lights
As these destinations are full of bucket list worthy experiences, don’t just concentrate your entire energy around northern lights. If the journey is planned perfectly well, you will see that there is so much more to explore that can leave you overwhelmed and will create endless memories in your picture albums for you to browse again and again and miss the experiences. By the end of the journey, you will talk much more than just Northern lights.
Blingbird’s success story in chasing the auroras
Every year in the month of February, Blingbird takes a special small group experience to the Scandinavian country, which is carefully planned, keeping in mind the best locations to experience these auroras, with endless destination experiences, best selected resorts, along with some amazing culinary. Till now we have always succeeded in seeing the auroras and have made beautiful memories. All we needed was the right planning at the right time.