There’s no doubt about it, when on the trail for the Northern Lights—Iceland is your top pick!
With tours aplenty and a bucket load of fantastic pictures across the web and social media teasing the possibility of seeing this natural phenomenon, it’s easy to see why, between 2017 and 2021, over 4 million people visited the land of fire and ice—with many hoping to catch the Northern Lights!
Read on for more.
What are the Northern Lights?
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, they occur around the North Pole and appear high in the sky as dancing lights of assorted colours, including green, blue—and if you see them in all their glory—red, purple, pink and orange.
The Northern Lights are created by highly energized particles that are released from the Sun, known as solar wind.
Well here’s your technical side.
Gusts of charged particles or electrons from the Sun are sent hurling across space in what is known as a solar wind.
Some of these charged particles are propelled towards Earth and whilst much of the solar wind is deflected back into space by our planet’s magnetic field, particles can enter the Earth’s atmosphere at the poles where the magnetic field is weaker.
The charged particles collide with oxygen or nitrogen particles in the upper atmosphere and transfer energy, with some of this energy released as light.
That’s why Iceland is one of the best places on Earth to see them—as the country sits inside the Aurora Borealis Oval and is next door to the North Pole.
Depending on where in the atmosphere the electrons interact with oxygen or nitrogen, different colours of light will be produced.
For example, oxygen at 60 miles and above produces a green colour (the most commonly seen) but increase that speed to above 200 miles and the same gas produces a shade of red.
Whereas Nitrogen at 60 miles produces a blue shade and above 200 a violet hue. All these colours can mix to form pinks, yellows, and whites.
Am I Guaranteed to See the Northern Lights?
Unfortunately not! If we could guarantee you’d take in the Northern Lights on your trip to Iceland we would be on to something special. But fortunately—there are things you can do to maximise your chances of seeing them.
When is My Best Chance of Seeing Them?
Travel during ‘Northern Lights Season’ from September to mid-April when the nights are dark. And whilst there take a daily look at the aurora forecast which you can find on the Icelandic Met Office. The strength of the solar activity is given on a scale of 0 to 9. The higher the number, the more activity and the better chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Also predicted on the forecast is the amount of cloud cover as well as where you’ll find clear skies.
Sadly, even if conditions are perfect—there are no guarantees. The Northern Lights can even be present but too faint to be seen by the naked eye! Truth is, the Aurora Borealis are elusive and unpredictable, but then that’s what makes them so extraordinary, isn’t it?
Your Next Northern Lights Focused Trip?
The Aurora Borealis are incredible to see.
Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee you’ll see them but we can weave in opportunities—when crafting your tailor-made itinerary— to give you the best possible chance.
So if you want to dive deeper into the amazing Iceland and the Northern Lights—click the button below.