10 Fun Facts about the Northern Lights

Northern lights look both mythical and amazing. But what do we know about them?
Here are some fun to known facts about the northern lights.

Northern lights in Lapland

Northern lights look both mythical and amazing. But what do we know about them? Here are some fun facts about the northern lights.

Fun Facts about the Northern Lights

1. What are Northern Lights?

Northern lights look amazing on a dark sky looking like dancing waves of light. But what we see as lights are actually powerful collisions on Earth’s upper atmosphere.

2. What Causes Northern Lights

Sun is constantly ejecting charged particles to the space. This is called the solar wind. The particles can reach supersonic speed as they travel through space.

Some of the particles travel towards Earth. Earth’s defense line, the magnetic field redirects the particles towards Earth’s magnetic poles. When the electrically charged particles collide with the gasses on Earth’s upper atmosphere, the northern lights are born.

3. Where Northern Lights can be seen?

Northern lights (or southern lights) can be seen in the northernmost and southernmost areas of the Earth. This area around Earth’s magnetic pole is known as an auroral oval.

4. When Northern Lights are Most Active?

The solar activity varies with the 11-year sunspot cycle. This affects also to the frequency of the northern lights. But don’t worry even if it’s not the the most active year, northern lights are seen every year.

Northern lights are a bit more common during spring and autumn than during summer or winter. So basically they can be seen throughout the year, but you can see them only when it’s dark enough.

6. Catch them at Midnight

Northern lights can be seen any time of the day (when it’s dark enough), but statistically the best time to catch them is at midnight.

7. Northern Lights are usually Green or Violet

Northern lights usually glow in shades of green and violet, but they can also be red or blue. The color depends on the height at which the collisions take place as there are different gasses at different heights on the Earth’s atmosphere.

8. Are There Northern Lights in Finland?

Yes. Finland is located on the auroral oval so northern lights can be seen in Finland. They can be seen anywhere in Finland, but you have better chances to see them in Northern Finland. Chances of seeing northern lights in Southern Finland is just once a month (on average) but in Northern Finland (Lapland) you can see them almost every other night (on average).

9. Lapland is the Best Place to see Northern Lights

If you want to see northern lights, you should visit Finnish Lapland. In Lapland northern lights can be seen almost 200 nights a year.

10. Named after Roman Goddess

The official terms for northern lights are aurora borealis (arctic) and aurora australis (antarctic). The word aurora comes from the Roman goddess of the dawn.

In Finland They are known as “Revontulet”

In Finnish language northern lights are known as “revontulet” which translates to fox’s fires. Perhaps because the auroras may look like a tail of a mythical firefox.

More info:
Visit Lapland
Finnish Meteorological Institute
Image by Marko Junttila / Lapland Material Bank