So, you thought winter in Lapland was in black and white. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, the polar night is alive with light and colour.
The white snow reflects a heavenly light show – glittering stars, a full moon and the magical, mystical Northern Lights. But what, exactly, are the Northern Lights? The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, appear in a clear night sky as swirling rivers of greenish-blue light.
They move and dance unpredictably; sometimes barely perceptible, then suddenly growing vivid. In simple terms, the auroras can be explained as an interaction of the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetic field. The solar wind consists of charged particles emanating from the Sun. These are captured by the Earth’s magnetic field and drawn towards the poles at very high speed.
The phenomenon occurs when the particles collide with atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, transforming kinetic energy into visible light. Their colour is most often greenish blue. Sometimes, the Northern Lights can be red or purple. The different colours depend on the types of atoms, their speed and charge. The most intensive auroras occur at a height of about 100 km and can be 10 to 30 km high, although they can extend, with diminishing light intensity, several hundred kilometres upwards to, at most, 1000 km.
Normally, the Northern Lights can be seen on virtually every clear night at high latitudes in the northern hemisphere, under the so-called north polar auroral oval. In Sweden, the polar auroral oval is most often above Kiruna’s latitude. It must be dark for the auroras to be visible, and they are best viewed from open spaces away from peripheral light.
Light – always welcome when it returns in spring to the regions north of the Arctic Circle. Slowly, nature awakes as the snow melts away. Bubbling and trickling can be heard from every ditch, mountain stream and glade. All living things rush towards summer with open arms.
North of the Arctic Circle, the period from early-June until late-July is like a single, long day. At this latitude and time of year, the Midnight Sun never dips below the horizon. Sleep seems irrelevant, and energy virtually inexhaustible. Take advantage of it. Experience nature at night, when everything exciting happens.
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