A Traveler not only lives places but moments. That’s why seeing Aurora Borealis in Iceland is an experience that can change your experience and that you will remember as unique.
Aurora Borealis: What is it?
Northern Lights are a luminous phenomenon that occurs in the upper layers of the Earth’s atmosphere. The reason that auroras attract thousands of travelers to Iceland every year is the solar wind, a flow of particles that cross space and are harmful to the life of living beings.
Iceland has very good conditions to see Aurora Borealis.
Life on Earth exists thanks to a magnetic shield that protects organisms from these radiations.
Thanks to the magnetosphere the Earth is as we know it, but this defensive system does not form a perfect sphere, nor does it cover the surface of the planet.
In the central Latitudes of the Earth, the shield is thicker and more powerful, they are the so-called Centurions of Van Allen. On the other hand, in the polar zones, the magnetic shield is weaker, so the solar particles are able to get closer to the Earth.
The impact of these particles against the upper layers of the atmosphere creates the spectacular Northern and Southern Auroras.
How does it feel to see the Northern Lights for the first time?
It’s cold. The wind hitting your face is leaving you with red skin and those fat gloves don’t seem to be enough. And yet you stay there, surrounded by snow because you have a more important mission than warming up your body.
And you realize what’s going on. A light appears and becomes more intense until you stop believing it is a cloud. The air moves it like silk curtains.
What you feel, what goes through your body and your mind is something intimate that is known to everyone who traveled to the north and was able to meet this phenomenon. It is something that you will know if you meet an aurora.
When to see Aurora Borealis in Iceland?
In Iceland, as in the rest of the northern hemisphere, the best time to see aurora borealis is autumn and winter, from September to April. The causes are simple, simply the hours of light are shorter and this makes the auroras visible more easily and for longer.
Where do you see Aurora Borealis in Iceland?
The essential thing to enjoy Aurora Borealis is that it is at night and that there are also good weather conditions.
Northern Lights are seen in winter when nights are longer, and the icy cold creates fewer clouds of water vapor.
The sky has to be clear, although if there are clouds they are not a great impediment to see them, and light pollution should be minimal or non-existent.
The best time to see auroras Borealis in Iceland is between 21:00 and 2:00.
In Iceland, as we know, the night is almost total and only Reykjavik and its periurban area constitute a real city. So if you get away from the capital you can enjoy with pleasure this majestic natural spectacle, one of the main reasons to visit Iceland.
Why you shouldn’t go on your own
My personal advice is that if you don’t know where to go to see them hire a guided tour that will take you. I am of the opinion that if you went there you will not keep a few coins for not spending and miss a unique experience. You can save but in some cases not.
Another advice I can give you is to be very careful if you’re going to drive in winter because the roads are only for experienced locals. Every year there are accidents of tourists who thought they could move around the island without problems and ended up surrounded by snow or off the road.
While you can look for the tours that suit you best by price or dates, my advice is to take a look at the tour from Reykjavik that will take you to an area without light pollution or the tour that includes the Golden Circle to see geysers, waterfalls and auroras.
If you are not convinced by these tours look on the internet because you will surely find more than one.
Every winter there are dozens of accidents involving tourists driving in Iceland. It is not advisable to do so.
If you visit Iceland early in the spring, autumn or winter, and you are touring the country, you are sure to unwittingly find the wonderful spectacle of the famous Northern Lights.
If, on the other hand, you visit Iceland for a few days, or want a trip organized by professionals, you can hire one of the excursions offered by the different tour companies that exist in Reykjavik or in the north of the country.
Shapes and colors of the Northern Lights in Iceland
As in the rest of the world where they can be appreciated, the forms are changing and capricious.
They generally form arcs, circles, and nebulae, with rapid mutations and bursts of intensity. Their colors change depending on the type of particle that collides with the magnetosphere and the height at which it is in the atmosphere. Light rays appear and disappear and colors change.
The shades range from yellow to violet red, through all shades of green. The latter being the most common color known in the northern lights when they are 95 kilometers above sea level.
Oxygen at higher altitudes (over 320 kilometers) gives the color red.
On the other hand, nitrogen at lower altitudes produces blue auroras, and if it collides with particles at higher latitudes, the auroras are violet or purple. They are pink when these tones are mixed in the sky.
Forecasts to see Aurora Borealis
Although accurate prediction is impossible, as is meteorology, the Aurora Borealis have their own short-term forecasts.
The Kp index, a scale of numbers from 0 to 9, measures geomagnetic activity and tells us when they are most likely to appear. The higher the solar energy index, the higher the probability of seeing an aurora.
Tips for observing Aurora Borealis in Iceland
It is important to keep warm, as the winter nights on the island are long and the temperatures are quite low, and if you want to see an Aurora, you have to be patient, so being well protected against the cold and wind is essential.
You must look to the North, you can find it with the traditional methods, with a map, a compass, with a mobile application or by eye, what you must always bear in mind is that the sun rises from the East and sets from the West.
In the beginning, the human eye catches a kind of greyish clouds, but once accustomed, you can distinguish halos of light and colors.
If you have a camera and you want to photograph the Aurora Borealis, a tripod is fundamental since it is necessary to shoot in long exposures, preferably using a remote control or programming the camera. The ISO is necessary, but should not be too high to avoid noise.
Aurora Borealis seen from an Airplane
Some of the best views of the Aurora Borealis are from airplanes, as high altitude is better since they occur in the upper layers of the atmosphere. The idea is to travel to Iceland or come back at night.
As you can see this is a majestic natural spectacle that you can not miss while traveling to this wonderful and magical land, is something beautiful and unique, worth seeing and enjoying in all its splendor. I assure you that it will surprise you and make you feel in an unimaginable way. So don’t wait any longer and pack, Iceland and all its wonders are waiting for you.
Check out this Video: Finding Northern Lights in Iceland! Beautiful!
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