The phenomenon Northern Lights

May 19, 2024 By Blog Comments Off

the phenomenon northern ligths

Many people ask themselves about what the Northern Lights are and what causes them to be such beautiful phenomena

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are in a fact a natural light display predominantly seen in high-latitude regions around the Arctic. These spectacular displays are caused by the interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and charged particles from the sun. So if it weren´t for the magnetic field we would not see any Northern Lights.

The magnetic field is generated by the movement of Earth´s outer core which creates electric currents which in turn generate the magnetic field.The
strength of the magnetic field varies across the Earth’s surface. It is
stronger at the poles and weaker at the equator.

Due to the solar winds from the Sun, there is a continuous stream of charged particles (electrons and protons) towards the Earth´s atmosphere.  But Earth´s magnetic poles tend to attract those particles in their direction, i.e. the Earth’s magnetic field guides these particles towards the polar regions which is the reason we see the Northern Lights more around the North and South Pole.

Now, when those charged particles hit the Earth´s upper atmosphere  their collision with other gas molecules generates energy to those molecules, i.e. excites them.    When excited molecules return to their normal state, they release this energy back in a form of a light, the glowing light we call The Northern Lights.

What about the colors?

As we have seen the colors of the Northern Lights can be many like : Green, Red, Purple, Yellow etc.

Those colors in fact depend on type of gas of the molecules and how high they are in our atmosphere.  The most common color is the Green color, but that is the energy released of the oxygen molecules about 60 miles above the Earth’s surface.  Red auroras occur at higher altitudes when oxygen molecules are excited at lower energy levels.  The Blue and Purple colors appear due to collision with Nitrogen molecules in the upper atmosphere.

What are the best locations?

Around the globe the best locations are high-altitude countries such as Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Finland Canada, Russia and Alaska.  But note that Iceland is the only country where you can in fact see the Northern Lights everywhere in the whole country.  The best time of the year would be from September till end of April, but we have seen the Northern Lights appear as early as in August here in Iceland.

The best locations are where there is no light pollution and dark skies, that is what makes Landhotel the best place to be at when they are flowing over Iceland.

There is no light pollution around the hotel and when the winter sky is crispy and clear you get an amazing view of a starry sky with flowing colorful Northern Lights.  

In addition Landhotel has two rooftop cameras to monitor the Northern Lights and can even detect them before the human eye does, and of course when they do appear late or after midnight the hotel offers Northern Lights wake-up call to guests.

Main image credited to Maps of Iceland