Aurora Borealis

About Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, is a mesmerizing celestial dance that graces the polar skies. This spectacular natural light show occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with gases in Earth’s atmosphere, creating vibrant hues that paint the night sky. Emitting colors like green, pink, and violet, the Aurora Borealis transforms the darkness into an enchanting display of luminescence.

The phenomenon is most commonly observed near the magnetic poles, such as in the Arctic Circle. During periods of heightened solar activity, the Northern Lights become more vivid and frequent, captivating observers with their ethereal beauty. The science behind this celestial ballet involves the interaction of solar wind, Earth’s magnetic field, and atmospheric gases.

For centuries, the Aurora Borealis has sparked awe and inspired myths among indigenous cultures. Today, it remains a sought-after spectacle for adventurers and stargazers, drawing them to the far reaches of the planet to witness the cosmic magic that unfolds overhead. The Northern Lights stand as a celestial masterpiece, reminding us of the intricate interplay between our planet and the vast expanse of space.

Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, can be witnessed in regions near the Arctic Circle, which includes places like Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and parts of Russia. These magical lights often paint the night sky with vibrant colors, creating a celestial spectacle that is truly awe-inspiring.

To catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, it’s best to head to locations with clear, dark skies, away from city lights that can diminish their visibility. The spectacle is most frequent during the winter months when the nights are longest, and the skies are darkest. Visitors to these northern regions can experience the breathtaking dance of colors, as charged particles from the sun interact with Earth’s atmosphere, producing the luminous display known as the Aurora Borealis.

Many travel enthusiasts embark on Northern Lights tours or plan trips to designated viewing spots to increase their chances of witnessing this natural wonder. It’s an adventure that promises not only a dazzling light show but also a deep connection to the beauty of our planet and the cosmic forces at play in the night sky.

Southern Lights

The Southern Lights, or Aurora Australis, can be observed in regions near the Antarctic Circle. This includes locations like parts of Antarctica, southern Australia, New Zealand, and southern South America. Similar to the Northern Lights, the Southern Lights are a captivating display of colorful lights in the night sky, resulting from the interaction of charged particles from the sun with the Earth’s atmosphere.

To have the best chance of seeing the Southern Lights, one should head to areas with clear, dark skies and minimal light pollution. The ideal times for viewing are during the winter months when nights are longest and skies are darkest. Just like its northern counterpart, the Southern Lights offer a celestial dance of vibrant colors, creating a spectacular natural phenomenon for those lucky enough to witness it in the southern hemisphere.

Ways to experience

Seeing the northern lights is an amazing experiencing and an almost guaranteed adventure because of the remoteness of the locations that provide opportunities to see the lights.

Many people look for national parks which provide access to the norther lights as well as an array of other natural wonder features. The winter landscapes are only enhanced by the pristine wilderness of these remote areas.

Exploring Cairngorms, Pingvellir or Torngat Mountains national parks in Europe, Abisko National Park in Canada, or Denali, Isle Royale, or Voyageurs National Park in the United States are some of the best ways to experience the Aurora Borealis.  Each of these national parks provide opportunities to see wildlife, wilderness and other wonder features associated with the norther lights.

Best Times

The best time to see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is during the winter months, particularly from late September to early April. This period aligns with the longer nights and darker skies, providing optimal conditions for observing the celestial display.

Several factors contribute to the visibility of the Northern Lights. Solar activity plays a crucial role, and periods of heightened solar activity, known as solar maximums, increase the chances of witnessing more vivid and frequent auroras. Additionally, locations closer to the magnetic poles, such as those within or near the Arctic Circle, offer better opportunities for viewing.

To enhance your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, choose a location away from city lights with clear, dark skies. Plan your visit to regions known for their Aurora viewing opportunities, such as Scandinavia, Canada, Alaska, or Iceland. Keep an eye on solar forecasts and consider joining guided tours designed for Northern Lights enthusiasts for an unforgettable experience.

Photography tips

Capturing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, in photographs can be a rewarding yet challenging endeavor. Here are some photography tips to help you capture the beauty of this celestial phenomenon:

  1. Choose the Right Location: Select a location away from city lights with a clear, unobstructed view of the northern horizon. This increases your chances of seeing and photographing the Northern Lights.
  2. Time Your Shoot: The best time to capture the Northern Lights is during the darkest hours, typically from late evening to early morning. Plan your shoot during the winter months when nights are longest and skies are darkest.
  3. Use a Sturdy Tripod: A stable tripod is crucial for long-exposure shots. Choose a sturdy tripod to avoid camera shake during the extended exposure times required for capturing the Northern Lights.
  4. Fast Lens with Wide Aperture: Use a fast lens (one with a wide aperture, e.g., f/2.8 or lower) to allow more light into the camera. This helps in capturing the faint lights of the Aurora more effectively.
  5. Manual Focus: Switch to manual focus and set the lens to infinity. Autofocus may struggle in low-light conditions, and manual focus ensures your images are sharp.
  6. Long Exposure: Experiment with long exposure times, typically ranging from 10 to 30 seconds or more, depending on the intensity of the lights. This helps capture the intricate details of the Northern Lights.
  7. Low ISO Settings: Start with a low ISO setting (e.g., ISO 400 or 800) to reduce noise in your images. Increase the ISO gradually if needed.
  8. Shoot in RAW: Capture images in RAW format for more flexibility in post-processing. RAW files retain more information and allow you to adjust exposure and color balance more effectively.
  9. Compose Creatively: Frame your shots with interesting foreground elements, such as trees, mountains, or bodies of water, to add depth and context to your Aurora images.
  10. Stay Patient: The Northern Lights can be unpredictable. Be patient and stay prepared for sudden changes in intensity and shape. Multiple shots over time can be blended to create a stunning time-lapse effect.

Remember, practice and experimentation are key to honing your skills in capturing the Aurora Borealis. Don’t forget to dress warmly, as you might spend extended periods outside in cold conditions while waiting for the perfect shot.


1. How was the Aurora Borealis selected as a natural wonder?

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, were selected as a natural wonder because of the unique, extraordinary and captivating natural phenomena that evoke a sense of awe and admiration.

The characteristics that make the Aurora Borealis a natural wonder include:

  1. Spectacular Display: The Aurora Borealis is a breathtaking display of colorful lights dancing across the night sky. The vibrant hues, including greens, pinks, and purples, create a celestial spectacle that captivates observers.
  2. Celestial Interaction: The phenomenon is a result of the interaction between charged particles from the sun and Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. This intricate interplay of cosmic forces adds to its wonder.
  3. Geographical Rarity: The Northern Lights are typically visible near the polar regions, especially around the Arctic Circle. This geographical rarity contributes to the uniqueness and wonder associated with the phenomenon.
  4. Cultural Significance: The Aurora Borealis holds cultural significance in various indigenous and northern communities. Many cultures have myths and stories associated with the lights, adding to their mystique.
  5. Scientific Interest: The scientific principles behind the Aurora Borealis, involving solar wind, magnetic fields, and atmospheric gases, contribute to its wonder for those with an interest in astronomy and physics.

The aurora borealis’s designation as a natural wonder is because of the inherent beauty, celestial nature, and the sense of wonder it instills in those who witness it have solidified its place as one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena on Earth.