The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, light up the winter nights in the Finnish Lapland and other parts of Northern Scandinavia. The Aurora Borealis are often yellowish green or red, but they can also be blue or purple, and they can provide as much light as a full moon.
See the Northern Lights in Finland
The winter in Lapland, Finland is dark. The sun does not rise above the horizon at all between November and January. This dark period is called kaamos in Finnish and Polar Night in English, and the Northern Lights look especially magical in the winter darkness. The lights can move from East to West, they may appear in rays or they might be pulsing and fast-moving shapes. Their shapes and colours can change rapidly.
The Aurora Borealis can be seen in most parts of Lapland. One of the best places to see them in Finland is the Kilpisjärvi region. The best times for viewing the Northern Lights are in September and October and again in February and March, when the lights can sometimes be seen as often as every other night. If the weather conditions are right, they can be visible even in South Finland although these occasions are rare.
The best conditions for witnessing the Northern Lights include a cloudless night and a place that is far away from city lights or other light pollution. If you are determined to see them, it is a good idea to spend a few nights in your chosen viewing destination. The lights do not always appear every night.
What Are the Northern Lights and What Causes Them?
The Aurora Borealis happen when charged particles from the Sun hit electrons and protons in the Earth’s ionosphere. These particles have been thrown into space from the Sun by solar winds at a speed of up to 1000 km/h. When the electrified particles (that are accelerated by the Earth’s magnetic fields) hit air molecules, some of the accumulated energy in the particles is dispersed as light. Yellowish green and red lights are produced by oxygen in the atmosphere and blue or purple lights are produced by nitrogen.
Finnish folklore has a more romantic explanation for the Northern Lights. Finns call them revontulet, which translates as “fox’s fires”. According to an old tale, a fox once swished its tail and produced sparks in the air, creating what is now known as the Northern Lights.
© Satu Susanna Rommi