Undoubtedly, seeing the Aurora Borealis is one of the most fascinating things to witness in a lifetime. During my latest trip around Finland this year, I surely understood why humans have been captivated for millennia by this magnificent Mother Nature’s show! I can guarantee you that the whole experience has been truly mind-blowing! But what causes these beautiful and colorful dancing waves in the sky? A quick -and satisfying- answer from space.com:
At any given moment, the sun is ejecting charged particles from its corona, creating what’s called the solar wind. When that wind slams into Earth’s ionosphere, or upper atmosphere, the aurora is born.
The Earth’s magnetic field redirects the particles toward the poles and the dramatic process transforms into a cinematic atmospheric phenomenon that dazzles and fascinates scientists and sky-watchers alike.
This intriguing natural phenomenon is also known as “Northern Lights” or “Polar Lights”, when you are in the north hemisphere, whereas in the southern one it’s called “Aurora Australis” or “Southern Lights”. I would like to immediately answer to the most frequent questions I got during my trip:
What’s the best time of the year to see the Aurora Borealis?
I specifically chose to visit Finland in March because apparently it’s one of the best months to see the Northern Lights. In fact I have been lucky enough to see them 4/4 hunting nights! 100% success!
Is there any “aurora forecast” available?
YES. Nowadays there are several apps available that can tell you quiet precisely the status of the solar activity and the magnetic fields. However, seeing the Northern Lights is NEVER 100% guaranteed, but it is surely recommended to check the apps each time you would try to see them! The other important aspect to consider is the weather forecast: of course if it is cloudy, snowy, or rainy, it would be more difficult or impossible to see the magical phenomenon.
How long does the Aurora Borealis last in the sky?
Depending on the magnitude of the incoming solar wind, the Northern Lights might last a few seconds up to a few minutes. They can also last from 10 to 30 minutes, and in very lucky conditions also for hours (but it is very rare). In any case, it is very unpredictable and all up to Mother Nature! 😉
Interesting fact: in 1619 the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei coined the name “Aurora Borealis” after the Roman Goddess of Dawn, Aurora, and the Greek God of the North Wind, Boreas.
1. MY FIRST AURORA BOREALIS HUNTING WITH “@BEYONDARCTIC“
My first ever Aurora Borealis hunting took place in Rovaniemi, Lapland, on 11th March 2022, with Beyond Arctic group and his professional photographer, Ryan Oliveira. I joined a small group of people at their office, where the staff kindly and professionally briefs the clients before every tour. We met around 7:30 pm, they provided us with warm winter clothes, like the typical thick suit for outdoor activities, boots, and socks. They gave us also a backpack with some hot tea, a head torch, a tripod, and some sticks for the night BBQ – yes, a BBQ under the stars and the moonlight!
That night the weather was quiet bad, very cloudy, therefore we didn’t have many expectations. Actually, we were all pretty sure that it would have been quiet difficult to see the aurora that night. But something incredible happened: after driving for about 1 hour away from Rovaniemi, we stopped on a frozen lake. After just 20 minutes waiting, the sky magically cleared up and the Northern Lights appeared! I couldn’t believe my eyes, truly a spectacular moment that I will never forget!
Beyond Arctic is a first photography focused tour operator in Rovaniemi, Lapland. In their tours there is always a professional photography guide, who helps the clients to take awesome pics with their own camera, as well as taking marvelous pics with their professional camera. In their portfolio there is a diverse selection of Nature tours with Arctic animals, photography tours and also winter activities like skiing, ice fishing and snowshoeing.
All the tours they offer can also be organized privately. For most of the tours, they have private locations in use, that make their tours even more unique, intimate and successful for photography. All the private tours are also suitable for families with small children.
2. SECOND AURORA HUNTING WITH @ARCTIC_ROAD_TRIPS
During my second night in Lapland – 12.03.2022 – I decided to push my luck again joining another hunting experience. This time the adventure was led by a passionate -and hardcore- Italian Aurora hunter: Lorenzo Mirandola (@lorenzmira_lapland), founder and owner, together with his girlfriend, of Arctic Road Trips (@arctic_road_trips). Being Italian, of course I loved listening to his meticulous explanations about the Aurora Borealis: he really helped me to better understand the scientific part of it! 😉 We met in Rovaniemi, just outside my hotel. We drove for approximately 2 hours, during which Lorenzo explained us also his “hunting philosophy” and ethic: he let the clients pay ONLY if they are able to see the Northern Lights show. He uses indeed specific apps for the aurora, that he checks all the time. Lorenzo told us that he got over the years 95% success rate!
He is very passionate about the Northern Lights, and he would do whatever possible to find the right spot to let you see them! I really appreciate his enthusiasm and knowledge!
Back to the story: we drove to approximately 2 hours from Rovaniemi, reaching a remote spot where there wasn’t any light pollution and any noise: just us and Mother Nature. Even before the aurora’s show, it all felt incredible! However, that night we have been waiting for many hours, to the point when nobody believed we had a small chance. But our patience got rewarded: after a few hours an extraordinary dancing lights show started in the sky!
This aurora show lasted for a solid while, giving us the chance to see many different colors, lights show, a solar corona and much more… Thanksfully we waited! Patience in these cases is the key! 🙂
I am sharing here ONLY pictures taken with my iPhone 12 Pro Max, to show you the most realistic images NOT edited or crazily Photoshopped as many people do…
Seriously a night that I will never forget, thanks Lorenzo and @arctic_road_trips !
3. SUBLIME AURORA BOREALIS IN LUOSTO, LAPLAND
The 4th day in Lapland I left Rovaniemi, in order to reach a sublime small ski destination in the Finnish Lapland: Luosto. I honestly consider it a true hidden gem, quiet and simple, but surrounded by overwhelmingly beautiful Nature! I stayed at Santa’s Hotel Aurora, in one of their cute igloo-cabins, and when I was heading to dinner (and then for the entire evening/night) I saw the most magical aurora among all I’ve seen. Just like that!
How sublime – and surreal- is sipping some wine under a majestic and colorful aurora borealis? I will write more about my stay at the lovely Santa’s Hotel Aurora in my upcoming articles…
4. NORTHERN LIGHTS HUNTING IN LEVI, LAPLAND
I know that it is not very easy to see the Northern Lights during a short trip, and I am fully aware that I have been very lucky to see them 4 times! The 4th time I witnessed another spectacular Mother Nature’s show I was in Levi, Lapland, the northernmost point I reached during this trip.
As soon as I reached Levi, I checked in at Northern Lights Village Levi, a very iconic igloo-cabins hotel in this area (more info in my upcoming articles!). The very first night I scheduled another aurora hunting into the wild with the staff of the hotel.
The Northern Light Village hotel is very well equipped, and it offers a wide range of amazing activities. For the aurora hunting you can choose to ride your own snowmobile or to jump in a very comfortable heated sleigh! How spectacular!
And once again, after patiently waiting for a while, the Northern Lights showed up beautifully in the sky! It’s been again an unforgettable experience, memories for life!
As mentioned, if you prefer to stay warm while waiting for the Aurora Borealis to appear in the sky, the staff of Northern Lights Village Levi can take you out into the wild riding a heated sleigh! You have nothing to do but enjoying the ride and the Nature! 🙂
This trip has been one of the most sublime of my life, and surely seeing the aurora borealis is something that you should experience once in a lifetime!
And you… are you lusting for the sublime?