Jump to content

In search of Northern Lights


Recommended Posts

 I am interested in seeing the Northern Lights and have begun research on both cruises and land tours.  In doing so, I came across CC posts as well as info from Google searches that when viewed with the naked eye, you do not see the greens, pinks, and purples that are seen in the gorgeous photographs.  It seems that you may only see white/gray cloudlike scenes with the naked eye.  To be honest, I would not spend the time or money to merely try to see the Northern Lights if you cannot see the colorful display with the naked eye.   (I realize that even seeing the Lights is never guaranteed. We were thinking of March 2021)   If any of you have done either a cruise or a land tour in search of the Northern Lights and seen it, I would ask what you saw with the naked eye.

I would ask for responses from those who were on a cruise or land tour, rather than from people who merely read about it online.

Thanks,

Marc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You can get those whites/greys or you can get the colors, depends on the intensity of the lights.  Camera does show better color for some reason than your eye does, but tons of reports of folks seeing colors.

 

We have searched for the lights on two trips to Iceland, one in March and one in September.  On our March trip we had 1 clear night out of 5 and saw nothing, on our September visit we had 3 clear nights out of 6 with no lights.  Both trips had very full days planned and we had terrific vacations .  .  .  just no lights.

 

Neither time did we take a tour, we went looking on our own from our lodging or after a short drive.  You have much better chances of seeing lights on a tour as the guides are all in contact with each other -- if one group sees lights they all see lights.  It's good for Business to have a higher percentage of success.  A tour (in a bus or van or similar) is going to be much more nimble than a boat can be, and has that benefit of info from other guides.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen them in Canada in New Brunswick or Ontario (can't remember which park we were in) and got to see the greens, but no other fantastic displays like some pictures.  It was very cool to see, and we were just sitting around a lake listening to a ranger talk and they appeared.   I never thought I would see them that far from the Arctic.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nitemare answer your question very accurate. A land base tour will increase the chances for seeing Northern Lights. If high solar activity the sky might be covered by clouds - guides know where there might be best chances for clear skies.

Last January I did a Hurtigruten coastal voyage - were happy to see the Northern Lights three times during the voyage and once post cruise in a Kirkenes.

Also quite high activity and nice green colors- a link to my review from the voyage.

4D001BDB-4EC9-4E2C-BA6C-5B88F2AD878E.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have seen the northern lights several times over the years while driving in Northern Montana (close to the Canadian border) - the lights were always green (typically seen when the solar particles interact with oxygen) and usually manifested as a static band of light. They are an impressive sight. 

I would love to see the beautiful colors that are produced when the solar particles interact with nitrogen. 

 

Edited by dogs4fun
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the info from all of you.

 

Hallasm,

I enjoyed viewing the link in your post, the videos and descriptions. Was what is seen on the pictures of the Northern Lights what you were able to see with the naked eye? Same green color?

Also, during the cruise were there any rough seas? What is your overall impression of Hurtigruten Cruises.

 

Thanks,

Marc

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The green color is more bright at the pictures, however the color I saw was green, but the color and the intensity will depend on the solar activity. Very impressive.

The second day after leaving Bergen, the sea was quite rough in the morning and early evening when we passed Stadthavet and Hustadvika (Day 2 Måløy to Molde).

I’m planning a voyage January 2021 but plan to sail from Bodø which is three nights sailing to Kirkenes avoiding the rough waters. And probably stay additional days in Kirkenes to enhance the chances for Northern Lights.

I have done several Hurtigruten voyages - very different from Ocean Cruises - smaller working ships - food is excellent however one set menu rather than menu choices. A popular Hurtigruten voyage is the 11 night coastal round trip - personally I think 11 nights are too much of the same - suggesting shorter voyages combined with days pre- post-cruise.

My voyage next January is not with Hurtigruten but Havila Kystruten - today Hurtigruten is operating 11 ships from Bergen to Kirkenes - from January 2021 Hurtigruten will operate 7 ships while Havila will operate 4 ships. I want to see what Havila can offer compared with a Hurtigruten.

In June 2020 I’m planning a journey from Bodø to Kirkenes on MS Lofoten - one of the older ships In the Hurtigruten Fleet - it will be a farewell to MS Lofoten - she will not be able to meet emission requirements for Norwegian fjords by January 2021.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I went to Tromsø (right under the auroral band) a few years ago to try to see them. We got lucky the first night and saw a strong display. With the naked eye, they were mostly a long glowing white cloud with hints of green, but we could clearly see them moving and had a few splashes of high activity where they changed quickly and we see some of the vertical-sheet shape that you often see in photos.

 

The second time I saw them was on an expedition cruise to Northeast Greenland. Again it was a glowing white moving cloud, but it wasn’t as bright or clear as the time in Tromsø.

 

However, that trip luckily coincided with a period of intensity so intense that people were seeing them in the southern UK. The next two nights we had displays that were spectacular. Again, the areas that appear green in photos looked mostly white to the naked eye, but the movement was incredible. There was a river across the sky from one side to the other, and it was swirling and dancing non-stop. It was so expansive that I didn’t even bother to take photos, because I could only see a tiny fraction of the sky through my viewfinder, and I didn’t want to miss the rest! Those nights we did have pinkish purplish hues as well, and they would come and go within the dancing light. On camera they appeared as green and purple, and we saw white and pink, but even with the brighter colors, the photos pale next to that experience.

 

In my opinion, even with less impressive displays, it’s the movement and the mysticism that give the aurora its appeal. Having light appear and dance above you in a dark sky just elicits a sense of wonder when you’ve never seen them before. And that wonder and ethereal feeling usually don’t come across in photos.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you do want to try to see the aurora, I would actually recommend a land tour over a cruise. The most important factor in seeing the lights is cloud cover, and on a ship you’re typically stuck following a predetermined route. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you’re out of luck. (On the Greenland trip, the expedition staff had rotating duty to watch for the lights every night, and for most nights that just meant getting up at the designated hour, looking outside, finding it cloudy, and going back to bed!)


On land, you have the option to travel to another area where the conditions might be different. One reason we chose Tromsø is that it has several microclimates, so even when it’s cloudy in town, there are areas nearby that often have clearer skies (and the local lights chasing companies will make every effort to get you to them).
 

The other thing that’s important for a northern lights trip is having something else to make the trip worthwhile. In Tromsø we planned to go dogsledding, visit the local museums, etc. In Greenland, we were really there to see the landscape and wildlife, and hadn’t been counting on seeing the aurora at all. In between those, we’d actually done a trip to northern Sweden where we didn’t see the lights even though we tried. But we stayed at the IceHotel and went snowmobiling and had a great trip anyways!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We saw them twice on a one week February land tour to Reykjarvik. In Iceland there are websites giving you live updates on the chances of seeing the lights and where to go.

 

To see them properly you need to get out of town into dark areas with no lights - we had our own car and were chasing them into the countryside at 3 am but saw brilliant green dancing displays.

 

We did a land tour rather than a cruise to maximise chances of seeing the lights.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/5/2020 at 7:21 PM, Raptordash said:

 I am interested in seeing the Northern Lights and have begun research on both cruises and land tours.  In doing so, I came across CC posts as well as info from Google searches that when viewed with the naked eye, you do not see the greens, pinks, and purples that are seen in the gorgeous photographs.  It seems that you may only see white/gray cloudlike scenes with the naked eye.  To be honest, I would not spend the time or money to merely try to see the Northern Lights if you cannot see the colorful display with the naked eye.   (I realize that even seeing the Lights is never guaranteed. We were thinking of March 2021)   If any of you have done either a cruise or a land tour in search of the Northern Lights and seen it, I would ask what you saw with the naked eye.

I would ask for responses from those who were on a cruise or land tour, rather than from people who merely read about it online.

Thanks,

Marc

 

 

If I want to find Northern Lights. I would book land based trip, not cruise. I would fly in Lapland (Finland), Northern Sweden, or Northern Norway at least for 2 weeks at the winter time. You will have best chance to find those lights then.  But it just luck, you may or may not see those lights. You can see Northern Lights at least in green color in naked eye. Have seen those few times. But all depend on solar activity.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 7 months later...

https://auroraskystation.se/

https://www.svenskaturistforeningen.se/aktiviteter/abisko-aurora-sky-station-2/

 

However you have to be aware that going by the arranged top tour is quite pricey and there is not guarantee of northern lights.
I've read though that you can buy non tour tickets for the ski lift that goes up which is cheaper.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

HI all!

 

I saw the Northern Lights in Yellowknife NWT Canada about this time of year. We went outside the city to a cottage where they appeared around midnight. I couldn't pick them up with my camera or phones but the owner had a good camera, a tripod & lens & got lovely pictures but not what I saw with my own eyes. When I questioned him he said the camera picks them up better than the human eye. Here's what he saw, there's a picture of me he took too so I know what he said is true.

I'd love to see them again some day.

 

~ Jo ~ 😊

 

Screenshot_2020-09-12 Photo - Google Photos.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Forum Assistance
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: AmaWaterways Announces an Extended Season on the Douro River
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...