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Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

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Limerick, Ireland
posts: 448
reviews: 22
Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Ive decided to travel to get a glimpse of the famous Northern lights.Can anyone tell me if theres a guaranteed time of year that I will see them?I was told to go early Feb.Im living in Ireland so my plan is to go to Oslo&either get a train or fly to Tromso from there.I 1st read that I would have to go to Alaska but people have seen them from northern Norway too right?

Any tips/help would be greatly appreciated.

London, UK
posts: 78
reviews: 5
1. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

No-one can guarantee the lights. Even if they appear, you need mainly cloudless skies.

I went to Tromso in Northern Norway in February this year. The fates were in our favour as the skies cleared and we saw a truly brilliant show.

We opted for Tromso as there is evidence that you have a statistically good chance there. The advice is to be prepared to travel out of the city as the lights can impair viewing. Also, with cloud patterns, it may be necessary to 'chase' the lights so use a guide who is in contact with others sharing local information.

Also, every day you can spend adds to the chances. If you allow 3 or 4 days, then make sure you are prepared to wait and take in some of the other attractions.

In February (a good time) there should be snow so try a dog sled ride.

If you see my profile pic, this is a small image I took during my stay.

Good luck

North Coast, N...
Destination Expert
for Northern Ireland
posts: 5,020
reviews: 70
2. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Hi Sarah

No guarantees anywhere unfortunately as you need clear skies. Now without going technical (cause I don't fully understand it myself no matter how much my boyfriend tries to explain it!!) but the intensity of the northern lights actually is linked to the solar cycle and we are on the way up so over the next few years, things should be good! So, this winter should be a good year. You still need the clear skies though - and away from light pollution for best views. I've read trip reports on this forum of people who went for 4 nights and didn't seem them at all (but had a fantastic time and will return!) and others who saw them every night.

Norwegian air has fairly reasonable priced flights from Dublin to Tromso via Oslo (but on a through ticket) - I booked mine last week! I found it cheaper to book from Thursday - Tuesday (5 nights) than Sunday - Thursday (4 nights) even taking into account my hotel accommodation so try a few combinations. SAS also fly but were more expensive.

Tromso is recognised as being one of the best places for viewing lights.

To maximise your chances, I would consider evening events on as many nights as you can afford. These activities are expensive unfortunately but vary greatly in price.

Essential will be an Aurora chase - or two!. The two most frequently recommended here are Guide Gunnar and Kjetil Skogli. Natur i Nord also seem to be becoming popular. They will offer Aurora Sightseeing tours/Aurora chases where they will try to find the lights for you - even going to the Finnish border.

These typically leave around teatime and return about midnight or after to maximise the chance of seeing the aurora.

Another cheaper option is to go on the bus and cruise option (not available on Fri/Sat/Sun) which leaves Tromso and goes along the coast with a good chance of seeing the lights.

Then of course the options of evening dogledding, reindeer trips or snowmobiling out to a wilderness camp in the hope of seeing the lights there too.

I haven't provided links as there are loads on this forum - Guide Gunnar's posts are especially informative.

We're going in February and I am already booking activities but hope to have something on at least 3 of our 4 'free' evenings to maximise our chances of seeing the aurora.

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,778
reviews: 8
3. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Welcome to the Arctic Norway... for example Tromsø..;)

"Everybody" goes to Tromsø or Northern Norway for the Northern Lights Chase, especially after the BBC documentary with Joanna Lumley...;)

Of course, you can also go to Alaska, but why that when you live in Europe..? You can see the Northern Lights in a circle around the North Pole, and the best chances to see it is north of the Arctic Circle...

BUT, there are nobody who can give you an guarantee, that you will see it... it depence on the activity, and the weather, ... but the season goes from September to April.

And this week, especially yesterday was a great show!!

Please check this one for all activity company who runs tours up here - destinasjontromso.no/english/documents/Vinte…

And this one for your accommodation - destinasjontromso.no/english/accommodation.h…

And if you can fly on a Tuesday or Saturday, and you will fly via London, then it`s a direct flight to Tromsø with http://norwegian.no

You can also use them via Oslo or http://sas.no from Dublin to Oslo, and then to Tromsø...

Or if you live close to Shannon airport, then you can use Ryanair to Torp, Sandefjord and take the train to Oslo airport...

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,778
reviews: 8
4. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

What create the Northern Lights..?

http://www.nrk.no/nett-tv/klipp/466066/

If you can open this movie link, then you will see what happen when the solar storm crash into the magnetic fields around the North Pole (where we see Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights) or at the South Pole (where they see Aurora Australias, the Southern Lights)...

It`s in Norwegian, but you will see out of the pictures what happen..;)

Oslo
posts: 1,724
reviews: 133
5. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Tromsø is nice, lively and interesting. But if the Northern Lights was my main motivation, i would steer inland, where the weather is much clearer. The village of Kautkeino in Finnmark county, for example, has normally only 9mm of precipitation in January: http://turl.no/b0x

Tromsø on average has 95 mm, more than ten times as much: http://turl.no/avx

Tromsø, thus, is wetter and cloudier than Dublin, where you would expect 69 mm in Januay: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dublin#Climate

Instead of flying to Tromsø from Oslo, you could fly to Alta (both SAS and Norwegian Air Shuttle fly there) and take the bus to Kautokeino or Karasjok. These two sami villages have a lot to offer, and are both really something different.

http://turl.no/bbk

http://turl.no/bbl

The Northern Lights are a around-the-year permanent feature of the earth and can be seen from hundreds of kilometers away. But you see it only on high (and very low) latitudes and only when it's dark. So any time in between October and March should be fine. They are normally strong enough to be visible also when there is a full moon, but most spectacular when the moon is invisible.

The Northern Lights vary with sunspot activity, which is expected to reach a 11 year maximum in 2011-2013:

http://www.appinsys.com/NASASolar.htm

http://spaceweather.com/

Some scientists even believe it could be the strongest since 1958.

Otherwise, Tromsø is a perfect place to be. There are lots of restaurants and bars, museums and other acticities. Karasjok has the sami museum, the sami parliament and a couple of firms offering activities like dog sledging. There is a good hotel. Kautokeino is even smaller, but hosts the sami theater.

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,778
reviews: 8
6. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

The local temperature in Kautokeino can fall down to 30-35 minus celsius. In Tromsø, by the coast the normal temperature is between 5-10 minus...

They have build a new fancy hotel in Kautokeino, price per double room is about NOK 1700...

Some of the NL guides in Tromsø are driving all the way to the Finnish border, actually close to Kautokeino, for the chase... IF the weather are bad on the coast...

Please check this pictures, from the last season and check the textbox where and when the pictures are taken... close to all is taken at the coast, few km from Tromsø... through the all winter 2009/10..;)

www.facebook.com/album.php…

Limerick, Ireland
posts: 448
reviews: 22
7. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Thanks so much everyone.Great information. Im definitely going to go over in February now and sounds like even if Im not lucky with the skies,it sounds like a nice place to visit.

Arctic Norway/London
posts: 35
reviews: 4
8. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Hi,

Loads of great tips here - and I wish you every luck this winter!!

This winter is a good time to go as the sun activity has picked up so much, which creates more northern lights activity.

you can find some good ideas of holidays and activities here: iglobetrotter.com/norway/northern-lights/nor…

But it is also easy to plan your trip on your own, and if your budget is tight that is not a bad option.

I was in Tromso only two weeks ago, and even if it was not properly dark in the evenings, I still saw northern lights two out of five nights. Obviously, there´s no guarantee, but chances are good if the skies are clear! (It is also a good tip to go with a guide - they tend to know where the best spots are!)

there are some good tips on northern lights activities here:

iglobetrotter.com/norway/northern-lights/nor…

Good luck!!

Anette

Tromso, Norway
posts: 2,778
reviews: 8
9. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

Here do you have all the facts about Northern Lights Chase in Northern Norway. It`s also a trailer of the one hour documentary from BBC with Joanna Lumley... Please enjoy!

visitnorway.com/en/…

North Coast, N...
Destination Expert
for Northern Ireland
posts: 5,020
reviews: 70
10. Re: Help me see Aurora Borealis & fulfill my dream!

I would advise you to book soon!

Flight prices are going up. Also February is peak season so if you want to go on a Northern Lights evening trip with Guide Gunnar or Kjetil Skogli, you will probably want to book soon to get your preferred dates!