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Northern Lights

The dance of a thousand colourful flames across the dark Lappish skies fascinates visitors from autumn through to early spring. In the polar regions, this phenomenon is created when the particles accelerated by the Earth’s magnetic field collide with air particles. You can see plenty of Northern Lights in Northern Lapland on a clear night.

How the Northern Lights are created

The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis are created when electrically charged particles from the Sun hit the Earth’s magnetic atmosphere. The particles fall from space and during the collision the atoms in the air are charged to a higher state of energy. After a moment, the atom returns to its basic state, while at the same time precisely emitting its excited energy in a certain colour.

The light emitted by the Northern Lights is normally created 24 days after a sunburst. In Finland, the Northern Lights are usually visible at a height of 100 – 150 kilometres. The shapes of the Northern Lights are controlled by the Earth’s magnetic field.

Over the years, there have been many theories to try and explain how the Northern Lights became to be. One of the most imaginative theories was a hollow earth. According to this theory, another inhabited world exists within the Earth that has some sort of sun. The thinnest crust of the hollow earth was very thin and had holes at the poles. This theory claimed that Northern Lights were made from light emitted from the internal sun.

Occurrence of the Northern Lights

The occurrence of the Northern Lights is largely dependent on the Sun’s activity that fluctuates according to approximately an eleven-year cycle. Winter 2012-2013 will be peak season.

In the northernmost reaches of Lapland, Northern Lights can be seen on almost every night that is dark and cloud-free. A cloudy sky makes it more difficult to see the Northern Lights, in the same way as they block the Midnight Sun during the summer. On average, the Northern Lights can be seen on 200 nights a year in northernmost Lapland. At the latitude of the town of Kemi, Northern Lights can be seen around 100 nights a year, and in Helsinki up to 20 nights. In Central Europe, the Northern Lights occur about once a year, and in the Mediterranean regions only about once a decade.

Northern Lights are usually seen from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. The best time for the Northern Lights is normally between 8 – 11 p.m. The darkening skies of early evening first sees one or two arcs of light slowly travelling in the east – west direction. After a couple of hours, the lights get brighter, enabling horizontal rays to be spotted. This is when you can see a brief, yet impressive sight: Northern Lights move at a very fast rate of up to 100 km a second. The central sky shows a Northern Lights corona, after which the flaming spectacle calms down.


+358 16 321 3227

Hotel Santa Claus
Korkalonkatu 29
FI-96200 Rovaniemi

Tel +358 16 321 321

+358 400 102 170

Igloos Arctic Circle
Joulumaankuja 8
FI-96930 Arctic Circle

Tel +358 16 321 321

+358 16 321 3227

Hotel Rudolf
Koskikatu 41-43

Check In:
Hotel Santa Claus

Tel +358 16 321 321

+358 400 102 200

Hotel Aurora
Luppokeino 1
FI-99555 Luosto

Tel +358 400 102 200

+358 16 681 501

Hotel Tunturi
Lutontie 3
FI-99830 Saariselkä

Tel +358 16 68 111

+358 16 321 3227

Chalets Rakka
Urpiaisenkuja 4
FI-99490 Kilpisjärvi

Tel. +358 400 230 011

+358 8 469 2500

Resort & Spa Hotel Sani
Jukupolku 5
FI-85100 Kalajoki

+358 8 469 2500