• On the Hunt for the Northern Lights

    Watch the spectacular story of Andy, a Northern Lights hunter in Lapland.

  • During a new moon, a slight overcast can weave the Aurora as part of the clouds. It’s almost like in a fairy tale.

  • Every auroral display is different, but shimmering arcs and curtains of greenish light are the most frequently seen form.

  • Northern Lights look gorgeous in fall time. There’s the blend of autumn colours and because waters aren’t frozen yet, they reflect the Aurorae.

  • Seeing both the Northern Lights and a new moon up in the sky is something really special.

  • Clouds are the aurora hunter’s curse, but look for holes in the overcast sky. The thrill of the chase is part of the experience.

  • Bright auroral displays can even light up the snowy arctic landscape enough to help skiers find the way home.

  • Cheers! Though they might look almost within reach, auroras form at altitudes of over 100 km.

  • Auroras are caused by electronically charged particles originating from the sun. Multi-coloured displays form when different atmospheric gases are agitated by this solar wind.

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On the Hunt for the Northern Lights

The thrill of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many. Some, however, get hooked and can never get enough of the blazing colours in the sky.

The Northern Lights dancing up above is such a powerful and unique natural phenomenon it changes lives down on Earth. Being one of the best places to spot the Aurorae, Finland has even received immigration because of them.

The Lights Brought Andy to Finland

Years ago, Welshman Andy Keen was diagnosed with a neural disease that made him review his priorities in life. Upon seeing a documentary on the Northern Lights, he decided to go see them.

In 2009, he ended up in Ivalo, Finnish Lapland, and saw the Aurorae on his first night there.

- I lay on my back in the snow looking at them dancing across the sky. In addition to the lights, the almost deafening silence was also memorable, Andy says.

Profession: Aurora Hunter

Andy became a professional Northern Lights hunter and photographer with his own excursion company.

- I’ve now spent over 5 000 hours under the Northern Lights and I’m mesmerized every time I see them, says Andy.

- I enjoy watching people’s reactions when they see them for the first time – business men turn into little children and couples suddenly go extremely romantic, he says.

The Basics of Northern Lights Chasing

British journalist Fran Weaver has lived in Finland for many years, and still gets a thrill out of the Northern Lights. He still remembers his first time clearly.

- The sight was almost apocalyptical. The ever-changing patterns and colours of this spellbinding light show remained visible for several hours right across Finland, Fran says.

Even today, Fran always keeps a keen eye on the sky on clear evenings. Here’s a few tips from him to Aurora chasers:

 

  • Go north. In northern Lapland the lights shine about every other clear night between September and March. In southern Finland they are visible on about 10-20 nights a year.
  • Look to the stars. If you notice that the night sky is clear and starry, your chances of seeing the northern lights are good.
  • Stay outside. The lights might unexpectedly appear and just as suddenly vanish any time from just after sunset to just before dawn.
  • Wrap up warm. It tends to be very chilly on the clear winter nights when the lights are most easily seen.
  • Darkness is your friend. Get away from bright lights and buildings. Hilltops and lakeshores make good vantage points.
  • Sign up for aurora alerts. On the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s informative Auroras Now! website, you can sign up for free e-mail alerts sent whenever magnetic conditions in the skies over Finland make auroral displays likely.
Lapland

In Lapland, swapping the hustle and bustle of ski resorts and cities to the peace and quiet of the wilderness takes mere minutes.

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