Little-Known Facts About the Northern Lights

Seeing the northern lights is a bucket-list item for many avid travelers. This night-sky wonder still harbors many mysteries for scientists and travelers alike, fueling the excitement around it. Here are some little-known facts about the northern lights so you can learn more about the phenomenon before planning your trip.

They Always Look Brighter and Greener Through a Camera

One of the most surprising truths that amateur aurora hunters don’t realize is that the northern lights always appear brighter and greener through a camera lens than to the naked eye. This isn’t to say that witnessing them directly isn’t magical—it certainly is. But cameras, especially nice DSLRs with long exposure settings, can capture and amplify colors and details that human eyes simply cannot perceive in dim light.

In fact, weak auroras may only show themselves through a camera lens or appear as just white fog or stripes to the eye. This is due to the way cameras process light and color, making those Instagram-worthy shots of vibrant green skies more intense than what you might see yourself. Still, as we mentioned, you don’t need a camera to be awestruck by a strong, bright aurora, and these are easy to find if you plan your trip well.

You Don’t Have To Be Above the Arctic Circle To See Them

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to venture above the Arctic Circle to catch a glimpse of the northern lights. Depending on how high the KP index is, a measurement that gauges how much geographic territory an aurora will cover, some spectacles can reach all the way down to places like Italy!

Solar activity and clear, dark skies are key factors that allow these lights to be visible even in less northerly locales, broadening the possibilities for those chasing this natural wonder. For example, Scotland, the northern parts of the United States, and Canada are all locations below the Arctic Circle that attract aurora hunters. Canada is a particularly popular destination, and towns like Churchill offer excellent aurora displays if you go during the best times to see the northern lights in Canada.

However, it is true that your chances of witnessing the aurora increase exponentially the closer you get to the North Pole, and anything above the Arctic Circle will give you the best shot. This includes the northern regions of the popular destinations Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland.

The Southern Lights Exist Too

Amid all the hubbub about the northern lights, we bet the term “southern lights” hasn’t come up much for you. However, they exist! Known as the aurora australis, the southern lights illuminate the skies in the southern hemisphere, casting a similar spell of dancing colors. Visible from high southern latitudes in countries like New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina, the southern lights offer a similarly mesmerizing experience. Still, you have the best chance of seeing the biggest and brightest displays of the northern lights because there are more inhabited towns and infrastructure in prime northern locations than there are in the south.

Now that you’ve learned these little-known facts about the northern lights, are you ready to plan the trip of a lifetime? We hope you get to see them!

How To Prepare for RV Camping in a Remote Area

How To Prepare for RV Camping in a Remote Area

How To Take a Long-Distance Road Trip in a Wheelchair

How To Take a Long-Distance Road Trip in a Wheelchair