- December 09, 2018
The Northern Lights, one of the world’s most phenomenal occurrences, is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. These Lights (also known as the Aurora) are simply out of this world to say the least. It’s probably the closest you’ll come to the feeling of visiting the moon or Mars. It’s that spectacular!
Northern Lights in Norway
Tromsø in Norway is one of the few places on earth where you can view the Northern Lights. It is the largest city in Northern Norway with a wide range of amazing attractions including snowshoeing, dog sledding and reindeer sledding, whale watching, and snowmobiling, and, of course, the best view of the Northern Lights.
Why is the arctic city of Tromsø the best place to see the Northern Lights? It’s situated right in the middle of the auroral oval. According to history, the auroral oval is the area with the highest probability of seeing the Northern Lights in all its glory.
Places to see Northern Lights in Norway, apart from Tromsø
Tromsø may be one of the best places to see the Northern Lights according to many people, but it’s not the only place. You can see the Northern lights from the following places in Norway:
- North Cape
- Lyngenfjord region
- Lofoten Islands
Scientific facts about the Northern Lights that’ll interest you
The Aurora may look magical and mysterious, but there’s a scientific explanation to back this mesmerising atmospheric condition. The gaseous particles in the location of these occurrences collide with charged particles released from the sun to form Auroras of different colours and intensities.
Its appearance and intensity are controlled by the sun’s activity and its location depends on the earth’s magnetic field.
Not only do the Northern Lights have different colours and intensities, they also have different shapes, forms, and durations. The colours spans from purple to green due to the composition of the atmosphere.
Unusual Myths about the Northern Lights
Before scientists came up with an explanation for the Northern Lights, its existence has been subjected to complete myths and superstitions. Regardless of the scientific findings and the effects of civilisation, these myths and superstitions still stand true for some people.
Here are some strange myths about the Northern Lights:
- The Japanese and Chinese believe that babies conceived under the Northern Lights will be beautiful, lucky, intellectual, blessed with good fortunes and good looks.
- The Old Icelandic folklore has it that the Northern Lights ease the pains of childbirth if a pregnant woman doesn’t look at it. They also believe that pregnant women who look at the Aurora will give birth to crossed eye children.
- The Vikings see the Northern Lights as reflections from the shields of maidens who accompanies fallen warriors to Valhalla, known as the Valkyries
- A red Aurora was believed to be a sign of war and bloodshed to come.
- Do not whistle, sing, or wave at the Northern Lights or the spirits of the light will be alerted and they’ll swoop down and take you away. If you clap your hands, you’ll be safe. The North American Indians whistled at the spirits as an invitation any time they want to send a message to the dead through the spirits.
- According to the Northern Swedes, the Northern Lights were created by huge shoals of herring in the northern seas. They also believed that when there is a light show, it means bountiful catches in the offings.
The Best Time to See the Northern Lights
You may have to go for a bit of “aurora hunting” if you want to catch a good view of the Northern Lights. You see, this breathtaking scenery is a natural phenomenon, which means there is no guarantee as to where or when you’ll see it.
Regardless, history shows that it has appeared within a particular area and at a particular time range (late August to mid-April). Science, on the other hand, explains that the Northern Lights occur all year round, but the light summer periods render them invisible.
- January to March:
These are the most popular time of the year to go see the Northern Lights. During this period, the weather is darker, clearer, and there is a lot of snow to play around in while waiting for the lights to appear at night. You’re going to want to cover up yourself real good because it’s mostly freezing out there by this time of the year.
- April to August:
This is a not a good period for anyone that want to see the Northern Lights, except if you have some sophisticated scientific equipment to view it with.
- September to October:
Who says it has to be cold to see the Northern Lights? The months of September and October are especially recommended for anyone that wants to avoid the extreme cold of the northern winter. In addition to that, you can see two auroras for the price of one and the visible Northern Lights combine with the lake views to create a magical view effect. September and October are about the only months when you can get such a spectacular view.
- November and December:
Winter begins to set in at this time, snow starts to fall, and the landscape starts to change rapidly; a beautiful sight to behold. The snow brings with it a bit of cloud, but the longer nights bring darker skies which increases the duration of the lights.
What to wear while Aurora Hunting in Tromsø
Whatever you do, don’t forget to build up layers of clothes that will trap air! Trapped air keeps you warm and allows your body to breath. That’s the key thing to keep in mind about what to wear to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights.
The minimum recommended clothes you can take with you include:
- A super warm hat
- Warm thick gloves
- Base layer
- A mid layer
- An outer layer
- Snow boots
- Thermal underlayer
- Thick wool jumper
The three most important clothing pieces are the base layers, good boots, and good gloves. If you get these three right, you’re probably going to be fine.
While you’re waiting for the Northern Lights to appear
You know you’re not going to see the lights during the day, right? You’re not going to sit and bore yourself to death till the lights appear. Tromsø is a beautiful place with many other interesting attractions that can keep you busy all day while you wait for the magical nights.
Right outside the Tromsø city centre sits the world’s most northerly aquarium known as Polaria. It’s going to be hard to miss this tourist attraction. This is a unique museum slash aquarium with varieties of exhibitions including a film about the aurora Northern Lights, and an extensive installation showing the irreversible effects of climate change on the glaciers and arctic wildlife. Polaria houses a wide range of species including bearded seals and several arctic fishes.
Tromsø is such an ideal place for polar exhibitions as a result of its location inside the Arctic Circle. No wonder it was named “Gateway to the Arctic”. The Polar Museum, also known as Polarmuseet, is another place where you can learn about Tromsø’s long history starting from the time of its discovery till date. Do you know that Tromsø has a whaling industry? The Polar Museum exhibits historical information about some of the earliest expeditions and explorers. There are also exhibits that present the findings of continuing extensive research in this area.
Catching some outdoor fun is one of the most popular things people do in Tromsø while they wait for the lights. They include:
- Whale Watching
- Aurora Glamping
- Dog Sledding
- Reindeer Sledding
- Guided snowshoe walk
- Polar fish adventure
Honestly, these outdoor fun activities are more than enough to keep you busy all throughout your stay in Tromsø.
See Also: 12 Coolest Winter Activities in Tromsø
- Tromsø Museum
This museum is specially dedicated to the Northern Lights. It’s an educational centre where visitors learn the science behind the phenomenon. You can learn the history of aurora borealis research, and enjoy an in-depth explanation of the lights. The museum has two ecclesiastical galleries featuring artworks from the medieval era.
- Hella, Kvaloy
Get this, the Tromsø that you see today is the “new Tromsø”. If you want to see the old Tromsø, then you’ll have to take a trip to the small village of Hella on the island of Kvalloy. The peculiar thing about this place is that it is an “open-air museum” with small houses and prehistoric rock carvings dating as far back as 7000 BC. All of these are open to the public for viewing at all times of the year.
Norway is one of the great places in the world to see colorful lights in the night sky. Join us on our Northern Lights tour in Tromso.