Aurora Borealis, the northern lights

In high latitudes, like in Tromsø where Polar Adventures is located, you might at times, experience colored lights shimmering across the night sky which are called Aurora Borealis or The Polar Northern Lights.

Legend of the Northern Lights

Let's discover with us, the real legend of the Northern Lights.

Some Inuit- people believed that the spirits of their ancestors could be seen dancing in the flickering aurora. Mythological stories tells about aurora borealis as a fire bridge to the sky built by the gods. The aurora borealis from the North, or the aurora australis from the South are the northern or southern lights, can be a colorful experience that sometimes can remind of fireworks.

Northern Light photography near Tromso
Northern Light photography near Tromso

What are the Northern Lights ?

To understand well what are the Northern Lights, Polar Adventures needs to talk to you about physics...

Our sun is millions miles away. Its effects extend far beyond its visible surface. Great storms on the sun send gusts of charged solar particles hurtling across space. If Earth is in the path of the particle stream, our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere react.

When the charged particles from the sun strike atoms and molecules in Earth’s atmosphere, they excite those atoms, causing them to light up.

What happens in an aurora borealis is similar to what happens in the neon lights we see on many business signs. Electricity is used to excite the atoms in the neon gas within the glass tubes of a neon sign. That’s why these signs give off their brilliant colors. The aurora borealis works on the same principle – but at a far more vast scale.

“The weather' conditions decide whether or not, we will see the aurora borealis.”

The lights typically are seen in the far north – the nations bordering the Arctic Ocean – Canada and Alaska, Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Greenland and Russia. But strong displays of the lights can extend down into more southerly latitudes in the United States. And of course, the lights have a counterpart at Earth’s south polar regions.

The Northern Lights Colors

Polar Northern Light's Colors are visible in The Northern Norway
Polar Northern Light's Colors in The Northern Norway

The aurora borealis often appears as curtains of lights colored. They can also be arcs or spirals, often following lines of force in Earth’s magnetic field.

Most of the northern lights are green in color but sometimes you’ll see a hint of pink, and strong displays might also have red, violet and white colors.

Different gases in Earth’s atmosphere give off different colors when they are excited:

  • Oxygen gives off the green color of the aurora
  • Nitrogen causes blue or red colors.

When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light.

The Nature's Most Beautiful Miracles

Northern Light's Colors visible in Tromso with Polar Adventures
Northern Light's Colors visible in Tromso with Polar Adventures

And even though we know the scientific reason for the aurora borealis, the dazzling natural light show can still fire our imaginations to visualize fire bridges, gods or dancing ghosts.

People still travel thousands of miles to see the brilliant natural light shows in Earth’s atmosphere, specially in Tromso.

The ones that experienced the northern light will tell you it's one of Nature most beautiful miracles.

Furthermore, your Bucket List needs to mention experiencing The Northern Lights.

Plan it now with Polar Adventures, discover now Our Trips.

Don't hesitate to contact us with our form below or by phone for further informations.