Witnessing the Northern Lights in Iceland dancing before you across the sky is a transformational bucket-list experience and truly a quest worth pursuing. Although they are omnipresent in the south and north pole, some people wait years or even a lifetime to catch them, as they can only be seen under the perfect conditions during certain times of the year.
Myths about the Northern Lights
There are many myths about the astounding Aurora Borealis. In North America, they were believed to be the souls of departed ancestors or even the spirits of animals. In China and Japan, there is a myth that a child conceived under the northern lights will be blessed with good fortune. According to Norse mythology, the aurora was believed to be reflections from the armor of the Valkyrie, the legendary female warriors, who decided the destiny of the souls in a battle and determined who died and survived.
What are the Northern Lights?
The Aurora Borealis are electrically charged particles from the sun that get blown into the cosmos by sun storms, resulting in a colorful display as they get trapped in Earth’s electromagnetic field.
Where can the Aurora Borealis be seen?
The Aurora Borealis can be seen on the North Pole and South Pole during winter time and are referred to as the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights respectively. The best places to view the Aurora are situated close to the Arctic Circle, including countries like Iceland, Canada, Norway, Finland and Sweden, typically the norther you go the better chances. It is also possible to spot the southern lights in the southern hemisphere.
What is the best time of the year to view the Northern Lights in Iceland?
The Aurora Borealis can be spotted during the winter months in Iceland. Although they can be spotted in Iceland from late August until April, the prime time for viewing the Aurora Borealis is from October to March.
Due to it being winter it’s very important that you dress appropriately, especially if you are going on aurora tours you will spend a lot of time outside looking at the sky.
Under what conditions are you most likely to see the Northern Lights?
Although they are omnipresent in the Icelandic sky, they can only be seen under specific conditions during the winter months.
The prime conditions for spotting the Northern Lights are a clear sky, strong solar activity, and winter nights. Even though the visibility of the Aurora Borealis can never be guaranteed, the winter season provides endless opportunities for Northern Lights hunting, due to limited daylight hours. Considering Iceland only has a couple of hours of daylight during midwinter, depending on the latitude it’s a great place to experience the stunning sky lights dancing around amongst many other natural phenomena.
It’s always best to check the northern lights forecast before heading out in search of them.
Can the Northern Lights be seen from Reykjavik city?
Yes you absolutely can. Locals often enjoy the northern lights from the city, however, they are not as clear as outside the city because the pollution from the city lights may interfere with their visibility. Grótta is a popular place for locals to view the aurora borealis in the city due to slightly less light pollution in that area.
What color are the Northern Lights?
Although the auroral display is predominately green, sometimes with a hint of white, the Northern Lights can appear in different colors and shapes, from pale to vibrant colors including yellow, orange, blue, and pink. However, these colors may not always be visible to the naked eye, but a camera may capture more colors.