Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) have fascinated people through the ages. The peoples of the north have considered the Northern Lights a mysterious light phenomenon, explained in the most varied ways over time. Nowadays, the Northern Lights attract more and more foreign tourists, who with their own eyes want to see the magnificent light phenomena in their night sky, to Lapland and other parts of northern Finland.

Revontulet järven yllä

What Causes the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights are born out of particles leaving the sun hitting the Earth’s atmosphere. Particles transported through with the sun storms will emit Earth’s atmosphere, especially oxygen atoms, nitrogen molecules and hydrogen atoms, which in turn cause the occurrence of light phenomena in the night sky. Although the Earth’s magnetic field to a great extent prevents particles from entering the atmosphere, the magnetic field still has openings that allow particles to enter. The strongest Northern Lights are usually caused by solar eruptions.

Northern Lights are Best Visible in Early Autumn and Early Spring

Northern Lights can be seen from the end of August to the beginning of April, but they are most likely to occur during early autumn and in the springtime. This is because during vernal and autumnal equinox, the Earth’s position allows the solar winds effective movement towards the Earth’s atmosphere. The spring season is also a good time because there is less cloud formation and on the other hand, skiing conditions in Lapland are at their best.

There are two important preconditions for the occurrence of Northern Lights: darkness and cloudlessness of the sky. On a cold day, the sky is usually very clear, which will increase the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights. In the case of thaw, the clouds may, in the worst case, prevent the appearance of the Northern Lights completely. It is also a good idea to head to the darkest possible remote area, because the artificial lights of cities, streets, and traffic routes may also prevent seeing the Northern Lights.

Statistically, the Northern Lights are best seen at midnight, which is why it is advisable to schedule the light phenomenon hunting specifically to evening and night times. The duration of the phenomenon ranges from very quick, or a few minutes, to all night shows. One therefore also needs a bit of luck.

Lapland is the ultimate destination for hunting Northern Lights

The farther from the equator, the greater the likelihood of the occurrence of Northern Lights. In the northern parts of Lapland, at Kilpisjärvi, Utsjoki and Inari, the Northern Lights appear, in ideal conditions, during three nights in four. At the altitude of Ylläs, the probability of seeing northern lights is 60%, with the probability in Helsinki not amounting to more than 5%.

In the best case scenario the Northern Lights can be admired from the courtyard of ones rented cottage or even through a bedroom window. When looking for suitable cottages, you should visit the options of the northern Lapland municipalities - Enontekiö, Utsjoki, Inari, Muonio and Kittilä, browse Gofinland’s list of wilderness cabins or find your favourite location directly from the selection of Finnish Ski Resorts.

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