The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, can often be seen dancing above the magnetic field of the north pole, making Iceland one of the best places to see them. The colours can be quite varied, but the pale, yellowish-green is the most common.
WHAT CAUSES NORTHERN LIGHTS?
Electrically charged particles are released from the sun and and solar winds push them towards earth. When the particles collide with the magnetosphere, they run into oxygen and nitrogen and form the colour bursts we know as the tranquil auroras.
WHY THE DIFFERENT COLOURS?
The different colours depend on types of gases and altitude. The common pale green is produced when high-energy particles hit oxygen molecules at an altitude of about 100 km. Ruby auroras are born much higher up, or at around 300 km above earth.
THE BEST PLACES TO SEE THEM
Iceland is one of the best locations on earth to track down the Northern Lights. Areas that are not affected by "light pollution" are the best places to watch auroral displays.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO SEE THEM?
The aurora can be observed as early as August and as late as April. The middle of winter is aurora prime time, because it's the darkest time of the year.
CAN THEY BE PREDICTED?
It's impossible to predict the aurora accurately. One night they may be a pale milky green, spread thinly across the sky; the following night they could be red and violet and so bright that you could read by them.
WHAT KIND OF WEATHER IS BEST?
The weather conditions are vital. Clear skies are your best bet for easy observation, and the closer to a new moon the better. However, when very bright, aurora can be seen from the city and even through thin clouds.
HOW TO PHOTOGRAPH THEM
Use a tripod and a cable release. Remove all filters from the lenses, including UV filters. Set the ISO between 800 and 3200, your aperture between f/2.8 and f/5.6 and shutter speed between 15 and 30 seconds.
OLD BELIEFS AND SUPERSTITIONS
According to Icelandic folklore, children are born cross-eyed if their mother gazes at the northern lights.
See the Northern Lights this winter
Northern Lights Boat Tour
Going Northern Lights hunting in a boat offers a unique and romantic perspective of this favorite activity in Iceland. Sail away from the city lights and enjoy an unparalleled view of the dancing aurora in the night sky.
Northern Lights in a Super Jeep
Taking the Northern Lights Super Jeep tour will give you the freedom to go searching for the elusive lights in places not accessible by other types of car. Enjoy the comfort of the rugged yet luxurious jeep and the personalised experience of your own guide.
Northern Lights Mystery
This budget friendly option is one of the most popular with avid Northern Lights hunters that want to get to their destination quickly and easily.
Northern Lights and Crab Feast Dinner
This minibus tour will make sure you start your Northern Lights hunt on a full stomach as the first stop is at a lovely seafood restaurant in the Reykjanes Peninsula. After sampling some fresh Rock Crab head out into the darkness to look for the Aurora Borealis.