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How to see the Northern Lights
2 minute read
Camping by the lake under the Northern Lights

Credits:: Pertti Turunen

The thrill of witnessing the Aurora Borealis is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many

Many get hooked and can’t get enough of these blazing colours in the night sky. For those people and newbies alike, Finnish Lapland is the place to be.

While the Northern Lights appear close to Earth, they actually form at altitudes of over 100 kilometres, when solar winds made of particles from the sun agitate atmospheric gases. Here are a few tips for spotting these breathtaking displays in Finland.

Go north and look for the stars

In northern Lapland, the lights shine just about every other clear night between September and March, while in southern Finland, theyre only visible about 10-20 nights a year. Head north, and if the night sky looks clear and starry, you probably have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

People hold hands with each other in snowy terrain in Lapland  and stare at the Northern Lights
Credits: : Suvi Mansikkasalo
Green Aurora Borealis in the sky
Credits:: Hannes Becker

Stay outside

The lights might unexpectedly appear and disappear at any time, from just after sunset to just before dawn. Bright auroral displays have been known to light up the snowy arctic landscape enough to help skiers find their way home!

Dress warm

It tends to be very chilly on clear winter nights when the lights are most easily seen, so wear appropriate clothing. A great alternative to witnessing them outdoors, of course, is to stay in a purpose-built hut or cottage, where you can watch them from a warm bed instead!

snow covered cottage and the Northern Lights in Lapland
Credits: Jordan Herschel

Darkness is your friend

Get far away from bright lights and buildings. Hilltops and lakeshores make good vantage points.

Sign up for aurora alerts

On the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s informative Auroras Now! website, you can sign up to receive a free e-mail alert whenever magnetic conditions in the skies over Finland make auroral displays likely.

Blue Aurora Borealis in the night sky in Finnish Lapland
Credits: : Miikka Niemi
Massive northern lights above a forest
Credits:: Pertti Turunen

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