What You Need to Know About the Northern Lights and Iceland

What are the Northern Lights (aurora borealis)? Where can you find them? Why so many colors? When do we see them? All these are pending questions you’re worrying about right now. All will be revealed in this post as we will see answers to these questions.

What are the Northern Lights?

At a certain point in time in the year, the skies high up in the Earth’s atmosphere light up with different color displays – some green, pink, and purple – all fascinating and appealing to the eyes. What is happening here? 

The Northern Lights are a result of different gaseous particles colliding in the sky with charged particles that are emitted from the sun’s atmosphere. As a result of this phenomenon caused by those charges, the upper atmosphere of the Earth is left producing different reactions or effects like swirling, flickering, and glowing lights that can be seen from specific places around the globe. And these collisions of charged particles and gases can vary in color due to the distance of the collision from the Earth’s surface.

Why so many colors?

The most commonly noticed light is yellowish-green in color, produced by the collision of oxygen molecules with those particles. Other lights are red but involve a higher altitude located at heights reaching 200 miles, but generally aurora lights visible by the naked eye are about 50 miles up from the Earth’s surface. Other gases like nitrogen produce a different color, such as a blue aurora or purplish-red aurora.

Where can they be found?

Drawn through space these phenomenal lights are drawn to the magnetic northern and southern poles of the Earth. The most common and more accessible are the northern pole lights. They can mostly be observed from Iceland or any nearby city with no ambient lighting. One thing is certain though, the more time you stay in Iceland, the better your chances of catching them.

When do we see them?

When it comes to the Northern Lights and Iceland, they are most visible in the dark of night. But the most advisable time to observe these lights is when stars start becoming visible. If you aim to catch these Northern Lights, you should try traveling to Iceland between late August to mid-April. They last for about an hour or less, but to be able to view these lights properly you may need to avoid any artificial or ambient light sources so as not to disturb their visibility. That’s why being out in the country away from city lights is advised.