In Search of the Northern Lights!
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Blown towards the earth by the solar wind, the charged particles are largely deflected by the earth's magnetic field. These collisions emit light that we perceive as the dancing lights of the north (and the south). the best places to watch the lights (in North America) are in the northwestern parts of Canada and Alaska. Auroral displays can also be seen over the southern tip of Greenland and Iceland, the northern coast of Norway and over the coastal waters north of Siberia. (source: Northern Lights Center)
What are some of the best trips you can take to have the opportunity to see the Northern Lights? First off, you need to understand that seeing the Northern Lights is like seeing Mt. Denali in Alaska. Only 30% of the visitors to Denali get to see the mountain because it often is obscured by clouds. The visibility of the Northern Lights is affected by weather, frequency of solar flares, and other unexplained solar phenomenon still being researched by scientists. Bottom line is even if you go to one of the best locations for Northern Light viewing, there is a chance they won’t be visible. Many hotels even offer calls to their guests in the middle of the night when they decide to show their glory because they can be visible for a ½ hour or many hours depending on the night. But the good news is there are places you can go and times of the year you can visit that will drastically increase your chance of seeing them!
If you want to see them from Alaska the best way to increase your chances is by taking a land trip anytime from September to April. Globus offers an Alaskan Iditarod tour that includes a Fairbanks excursion with a local guide in search of a Northern Light Viewing. Pinnacle Travel guests who have taken cruises late in the season (early September) and added a land tour that includes Fairbanks have also been lucky enough to see the Northern Lights.
Finland and Iceland are other great destinations from which to see then Northern Lights. Collette offers wonderful tours of these countries. One of them actually includes a 3 night stay at the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort with one of those nights (or more) being in a glass igloo where you might be able to see the lights from the comfort of your own bed! Visit Iceland and walk on a glacier, soak in a geothermal bath in the middle of a lava field, or take a zodiac to view humpbacks, minkes and orcas up close and personal.
Pinnacle Travel is hosting a free destination showcase on April 10th from 6p-9p at the Lutheran Church of the Resurrection on the corner of Windmill Point and East Lake Rd. We will be presenting information on Northern Light trips, Africa, and the US National Parks. Please call 727-330-2040 to RSVP for this event.