The northern lights
As one of the most sought after visual shows of the northern hemisphere, the northern lights are an amazing natural phenomena that occurs when charged particles enters the atmosphere in the polar regions. The particles gain energy when accelerated by the earth’s magnetic field, and upon collision with other particles, creating this breathtaking display on the arctic sky. It’s only possible where the magnetic field is close to one of its poles, and there’s actually a slightly lesser known southern light as well.
When and where to see it
In order to witness the northern lights, or the aurora borealis, you should be located in the auroral zone, which is a geographical circle around the magnetic north pole. In Sweden this zone usually passes along the Kiruna latitude, but the lights may very well be visible further south as well. During geomagnetic storms, the northern lights may be seen all the way down in southern Europe, although this is a very rare event.
(photo by: A. Gentsch)
In the northernmost parts of Sweden the northern lights occurs quite frequently, but it’s not always easy to see them. Your best chance of a stunning show is on a cold, clear and moonless night, far away from distacting city lights. The summer sky is unfortunately too bright but it’s very possible to see them anytime from September to March. As many natural factors come into play, such as clouds and solar activity, it is very difficult to predict a “best time” to find them.
One of the most popular locations to enjoy the lights in Sweden is in Abisko National Park. You may either venture out on your own or join one of the many different tours. If you make your way to the Aurora Sky Station, you may also take the chairlift up the mountain for a front row seat.
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