FAQ’s on Iceland’s Northern Lights
Article by Vikki Beale
If you’re thinking of taking a northern lights tour then there really is nowhere better than Iceland to see the mythical Aurora Borealis. Iceland is placed in the most active part of the Aurora Ovals, which means that the Northern Lights can almost always be seen during the winter months just as long as the skies are clear. Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions on Iceland’s Northern Lights.
What are the Northern Lights?
Iceland’s Northern Lights are naturally occurring phenomena which happen as a result of gas produced by solar activity on the surface of the sun. When this gas hits earth it reacts with the earth’s magnetic field causing the frissons of colour which we call the Aurora Borealis.
When is the best time to see Iceland’s Northern Lights?
If you thinking of taking a Northern Lights tour in Iceland, then the best time to see these natural phenomena is during the colder periods of September through to March. Iceland’s long daylight hours make it almost impossible to view the Aurora during the summer months.
Time-wise, the best time to see Iceland’s Aurora Borealis is around midnight when Iceland’s Aurora Oval is said to pass over the observer.
Where is the best place to take a Northern Lights holiday?
To be in with the best chance of viewing Iceland’s Northern Lights you need to ensure that you are staying in an area free from any light pollution. Therefore, you need to venture out of large cities and towns into Iceland’s natural wilderness. A popular location with both locals and tourists alike is the 4* Hotel Ranga, which is located just over an hour’s drive¬†from the centre of Reykjavik. The hotel manager, Bjorn Erikkson, conducts daily tours of Iceland’s Northern lights and with his year’s of experience, is considered to be something of an expert on the subject. The 360 degree aerial views and mountain backdrops also help to provide the perfect setting for Iceland’s stunning Aurora Borealis.
How long do Iceland’s Aurora Borealis displays last?
Typically Iceland’s Northern Light displays last for just a couple of minutes and occur a few times a night. However, large displays that last up to three hours have also been observed, although they are far less frequent. The amount of energy that is produced during these larger displays is said to be the equivalent of a small nuclear explosion.
Are there any myths or folklore surrounding Iceland’s Northern Lights?
There are plenty and your guide will almost certainly regale you with many of them during your Northern lights tour. The Aurora feature prominently in Inuit and Norse mythology and are even mentioned in the Old Testament. In Iceland it was also once believed that if pregnant women gazed at the Aurora then their children would be born cross-eyed.
What colours are Iceland’s Northern Lights?
Iceland’s Aurora Borealis respond to the different gases in the ionosphere. Whilst oxygen atoms will produce red and green light, nitrogen molecules produce a violet light. The differing colours relate to how far up in the ionosphere the gases are produced. The most common colour seen in Iceland’s Northern lights is green.
About the Author
Vikki Beale is a holiday expert for iceland2go, a specialist operator providing a selection of itineraries for the best Northern Lights tour . We arrange luxury holidays and tailor-made holidays to Iceland and Greenland, with sights including glaciers, geysers, fjords, and the Northern Lights.