The Northern Lights
Amanda experiences the Northern Lights while traveling in the Arctic. If you have never seen them with your own naked eyes then perhaps
you might be motivated to see them someday. The above videos are non-timelapsed / more realistic unless noted.
When you see them in real life without the the aid of a camera, they will look different. Many videos you find online are timelapsed, these are not accurate when it comes to what you
actually see. The lights move slower and of course, there is no music unless you are listening to some while you are watching them. You also miss out on the cold temperatures
that often accompany locations where Northern Lights are viewable. It may also be windy. Of course, you get an all encompassing view too. You can always mute the video music!
If you are using a laptop or tablet, go out at night and imagine they are in the sky, until you can see them for real 'dancing in the heavens.'
Places to See
Assuming you are at the right latitude and the aurora is strong enough, the best places to see the Aurora Borealis in person are in places with 1) No light pollution, 2) Clear skies. If you can
make it to a place with warmer weather, then that is an extra bonus. Check out the maps in the links below to get a better idea. If warmer weather is preferred, look into Northern Norway
and Sweden (Abisko), as they are warmed by the gulf current - which may be in the process of failing (See global warming theme).
A note on latitude. When you see the Aurora Borealis maps you will notice that it is in the shape of a
donut / oval - centered around our MAGNETIC north pole - not geographical! This is the prime latitude at which to see the Aurora Borealis.
It is also visible outside of the donut, although the further away from the donut, it will be more in the distance and less overhead.
To the North it is reliably visible in Greenland up to Upernavik (North of Ilulissat). Somewhere between Upernavik and
Qaanaaq, the chances decline significantly. Reports from Qaanaaq note infrequent sightings in the distance. Amanda
sees the Aurora in Savissivik which is 150 miles south of Qaanaaq.
When the aurora is stronger it is also visible further south.
NOAA Space Weather --
University of Alaska Fairbanks Aurora Forecast - great resource with clear maps
BBC Secret Life of the Sun video clip (Youtube) --- Aurora Australis: Camera
vs Naked Eyes (Youtube)
Before you venture off to see the Northern Lights, there is one thing that might be helpful to know. They MAY not look as good in person as they do in photographs or videos you find on the Internet.
Lower your expectations. The reason for this is because cameras take in more light than the (average) human eye. The exception to this is if you are treated to a high kP value (6+?),
then perhaps the lights will be as good or better than anything you see in a video.
Or perhaps, your eyesight (and night vision) has just degraded from what is optimal! See the appropriate sections
on eyesight and the DARK SKIES theme to learn more.