Northern Lights

Photo: Michelle Ingrid Greene

Northern Lights

Written by: Study Bergen

Photo: Michelle Ingrid Greene

Norway is an excellent place to see that magical dancing phenomenon, the Northern Lights. Many international students studying in Norway understandably want to see the Northern Lights during their stay. Here are some tips and tricks to assist in finding the lights!

What exactly are the Northern Lights?

The northern lights appear when charged particles from the sun collide with gaseous particles of the earth’s atmosphere. Actually not exclusive to the north, the lights can be seen in both the northern hemisphere (they are known as "Aurora Borealis" when they occur here) and southern hemisphere ("Aurora Australis") above the magnetic poles. The auroras occur at the poles because the atmosphere above a magnetic pole is weaker and therefore more particles from the sun manage to enter the earth's atmosphere. The phenomenon appears as coloured lights. Many colours have been reported but green or pink are common, the colour seen is dictated by the type of gas particle involved in the collision. These ethereal lights can take many forms - from scattered patches of light to streamers, arcs, or gyrating curtains. 

You can read more about the northern lights here

Can I see the Northern Lights in Bergen?

While at times it is possible to see the Northern Lights from Bergen, their appearance is sporadic and uncommon compared to areas in northen Norway. If you are really determined to see the Northern Lights during your time in Bergen, don't make the mistake of waiting for the lights to come to you. Commit to making a trip to where the lights are more likely to be visible...

Where and when can they be seen?

There is no such thing as a guaranteed time or place to see the Northern Lights, however the latitude of the northern coast of Norway makes it among the best places in the world to have a chance to view the Aurora Borealis. Norwegian spots that offer a chance to observe the Northern Lights include Bodø, Lofoten, Lyngenfjord, Narvik, the North Cape, Senja, Svalbard or Tromsø, or Trondheim or Alta. Or, perhaps other northernly neighbors may tempt you to take a trip, including Abisko, Sweden.

Dark and cloudless skies are necessary for the lights to be viewable. The most likely time to view them in the northern hemisphere is during the winter months. It is reasonable to try to see the Northern Lights between the end of September and the end of March. Generally, between 10pm and 2am on clear nights is a good time to look for them, however they can occur anytime during dark hours. There are online tools and apps that might help you decide whether or not to put on your coat and head out the door in search of the Aurora Borealis. Heres's a couple you might try: 

Wishing you all kinds of luck for viewing beautiful winter lights!


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