The Magic of the Aurora Borealis
Imagine a time before science, when all you have to judge the world by is your senses. Nature is vast and often dangerous. The winters are so cold you trudge through snow and your breath rises in a sparkling mist before your eyes. Your nights are lit by the multitude of stars and the fires which keep the heat of life in you. Then, without warning or reason, the sky is lit intensely, not with stars or fire, but with a dancing wreath the colour of pine leaves or with turquoise crashing against the stars like ocean waves. It seems to only be possible through divine intervention. Unsurprisingly, the Aroura Borealis, or Northern Lights, is deeply ingrained in myth. Aurora was the Roman Goddess of the dawn and Boreas, God of the north wind. The Cree Indians of North America believed that the lights were spirits of those departed. The Algonquin believed it to be the light from a fire built by their creator, Nanahbozho. In Finland, the tales told of ‘Fire Foxes’ that would run through the sky so fast that when their tales brushed the mountains, they would spark and light the skies. There are as many tales as there are communities and each one is as intriguing as the next
So what actually causes them? (assuming it’s none of the above)
The Northern lights occur when activity from the sun releases charged particles (free electrons and protons) toward the Earth in a ‘solar wind’. When these particles meet our atmosphere, many are deflected, but some enter the atmosphere and collide with gaseous particles. The energy released when the particles collide produce this mysterious light. The most common colour, a pale green, is a result of oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Nitrogen collisions produce blue or purplish-red aurora, and the rare red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles.
So how can I see it!?
Easy! Check out the trips below…
Discover the great frozen lakes, ancient boreal forests and towering mountains of northern Sweden, and witness nature’s most dazzling light show: the incredible Aurora Borealis. In this stunning natural phenomenon, electrically charged particles from the sun collide with particles in gases in the earth’s atmosphere. But you’ll soon forget about the science behind it when you gaze upon these alluring lights in all their glory! The far north of Sweden has other visual riches to offer, from giant moose and reindeer to tales of life from the local Sami people.
Wild and untamed, Finland is home to some of the planet’s most incredible wildlife and is also renowned for acting as the stage for nature’s most mystical light show – Aurora Borealis. On this week-long tour, you’ll explore some of Finland’s most beautiful scenery, travelling through snow-covered taiga landscapes and dense boreal forests to seek out elusive predators like wolverines and wolves. Spend a night in a wildlife-watching hide, take an exhilarating Husky sled tour through the wilderness, and, weather permitting, witness the splendour of the Northern Lights from a rustic lakeside cabin.