The Northern Lights Season is on.
Aurora Borealis is a magnificent lightshow caused by collisions between particles released from the sun. When the electrically charged particles enter the earth’s atmosphere they collide with oxygen and nitrogen. What happens is a bit like turning on a neon light bulb. The Northern lights which can be seen around the magnetic north- and south poles are called Aurora Borealis in the North and Aurora Australis or southern lights in the south. The Aurora season has now started in Iceland. Usually they start to appear in late August and so is the case this year. In order for us to see them we need certain weather conditions, dark outside, temperature close to zero and at least partly clear skies.
Icelanders are rather superstitious and there are some unique examples associated with the northern lights. It is said that a sharp movement of the lights and many shades of colour mean that it’s going to get very windy. If they are static the weather is going to be quite calm.
Some also believe that when the northern lights are seen in late winter, more snow is still to be expected.
Looking at a pregnant woman under the northern lights or a blinking star is bad, the child she is carrying may become disturbed.
For us living up in the northern hemisphere, the northern lights are a factor, we like to watch them but don’t get too excited. We have the midnight sun in the summer and the lights in the winter, it’s been like that, always. In the last two decades, with increasing tourism in Iceland, the northern light tours have become very popular.
Many tour companies offer special northern light tours but there is no guarantee you will see them so the tour companies must have an alternate plan for their customers. It’s one of those things you can’t really plan.
Most of our guests are fine with this, they know we can’t “turn them on and off”. Photographing the northern lights has become very popular and some tour operators offer short seminars on how to do this this successfully.