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If seeing the northern lights is your bucket list item...

If seeing the northern lights is your bucket list item...

Oct 10th, 2019, 06:23 PM
  #1  
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If seeing the northern lights is your bucket list item...

...where would you go?

Norway? A fjord cruise? If so, which month?

Canada? Alaska? I've been to Alaska twice in winter and no northern lights.

I'd like to plan a trip but would like advice/ input.

(I assume this may be moved but I don't know where, since if I knew where I would have posted in that destination forum)

Thanks!
starrs is offline  
Oct 10th, 2019, 06:35 PM
  #2  
 
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Tromso , Norway.

Been 4 times,seen them every night but itís getting a bit mobbed.

Get the ferry to Senja, Island unbelievably beautiful and less tourists. Do not be duped by Icelandís marketing as it doesnít experience contentinental highs in winter and as result the weather can be dire with too much cloud cover.
BritishCaicos is online now  
Oct 10th, 2019, 06:37 PM
  #3  
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Thanks! Which month(s)?
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Oct 10th, 2019, 08:34 PM
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I've seen them in north central Saskatchewan as late as early May as well as in Western Newfoundland in February and March. I wouldn't recommend going to either just on the hope of seeing them since I think the Northern Norway option might be more reliable. I believe there is at least one resort in Finland that more or less caters to folks who want to see them (specially designed cabins or some such).

They really are spectacular if you get a night with the wide variety of colors and they can last for hours.
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Oct 10th, 2019, 08:45 PM
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Great thread! Bookmarking.
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Oct 10th, 2019, 11:15 PM
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We think February is the best month as the weather is more settled.

To get the best chances you need high solar activity, a geographic area where the earths magnetic field is of a nature where the activity is at its highest and to see what is happening - no cloud cover.

I know nothing of the areas in Northern Continental America but this week a travel show here visited a ridiculous hotel in Alaska, It is a luxury lodge at the head of a huge glacier, itís the highest altitude accommodation, at the latitude in the world. The Aurora watching opportunities seemed obscenely good. Itís worth investigating the lodge just to see what humans can build with a limitless budge
To view the the strength of the solar activity we use

https://www.gi.alaska.edu/monitors/aurora-forecast?

On our eight Aurora nights weíve found it to be very accurate


BritishCaicos is online now  
Oct 10th, 2019, 11:45 PM
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We went to TromsŲ a few years ago, when the solar activity was supposedly at its highest ever. Fodorite florida1 had gone in January and had warned us if you go then, the days are too short and dark to do much of anything in the day, so we went in March.
We did a bus trip one night. We saw a few light swirls, but it was overcast, so not great, and a long ride.
Another night we took a bus further north, then a Hurtigrutin cruise back to TromsŲ. It might have been nice, except if you stayed in the viewing room, the windows reflected just the small amount of light and you couldn't see outside. If we went outside (the front of the boat), it was bitterly cold with the wind. The boat was pretty boring with no scenery visible and food not so great, so I wouldn't recommend that.
Another night, we spent a night at the sled dog farm. They gave us amazingly warm jumpsuits, boot, and gloves. Most people left after the sled rides, so we were the only people there. We stayed outside on reindeer hides watching a perfect light show, did some sledding, and then slept in our warm hut. We would have had fun even if the lights hadn't appeared!

Once thing we learned is that all the marketing people will excitedly tell you has "tonight is predicted to be the best night in a million years". Don't believe them. They say that every night!
After two trips for the purpose of seeing the lights, I'd say choose a place that you'll enjoy no matter how the light appear!
lcuy is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 12:36 AM
  #8  
 
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we are at solar minimum at the moment, so activity is low, but increasing. Around the equinoxes is a good time to see them as they tend to be more active then for some reason - and you have the benefit of daylight to do other things.
I have been very lucky and seen them on three trips to Norway, but also from here, and friends regularly see them in Scotland and NE England. Iceland, Finland, and Yellowknife are also a popular places to try to see them.
The best display I saw was the second one which was in March, the first in February was also great, the third in late September (equinox) was sepcial ass there was just the two of us on deck watching it. I saw them from the Hurtigruten every time. It meant we had other things to see and do as well as the chance of the lights.
Try to plan your trip so you don't have the full moon, and use something like this sight to watch for your chances. You can change the map view for where you are, including the southern hemisphere. https://www.gi.alaska.edu/monitors/aurora-forecast
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 03:08 AM
  #9  
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I stayed at the Santa Aurora hotel in Luosto, Finland; they have glass ďigloosĒ for viewing, but I happened to be there in July, so...

Anyway it was a beautiful place and it holds a lot of memories for me so thatís where Iíd go sometime in maybe February or March. (Iíve got a trip report on it.)
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Oct 11th, 2019, 04:50 AM
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Iceland. Went a few years ago end of February. Relatively short non-stop flight from eastern US. Reykjavik is a walkable city (not when we were there, though. It was 2 days past historic ice storm) and interesting geothermal and other things to see, even if you are not into hiking in the winter. Downside - was not impressed with the food, even when taking a food walking tour. Without a car, 2 main options for seeing northern lights. Get on a van or bus and be driven outside city lights, sit in a field and look up. Or the one we chose - get on a boat used for daytime whale watches, don orange survival suits for warmth, sit on top deck and look up. Second option worked as there were bathrooms and hot coffee available. And the lights were incredible.
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Oct 11th, 2019, 04:57 AM
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Iíve wanted to stay in one of those places with the glass igloos for viewing!

Iíve fantasy planned a trip several times but never come close to pulling the trigger on it. Itís hard for me to get excited about a cold-weather vacation. But I expect we will do it someday. There are a few websites dedicated to making recs for viewing and timing so that can be a fun way to research this.

When we ultimately make the trip we will go for something on the luxurious side of things ólots of snow activities, nice accommodation, etc. so we need to save up because Scandinavia is spendy!
schlegal1 is online now  
Oct 11th, 2019, 05:04 AM
  #12  
 
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I did not see the NL, but loved scenically stunning Norway. Took the Hurtigruten cruise based on Hetiís review. I was actually not seeking the lights, so went in May... if you like fish, you will find good food - freshest and tastiest fish Iíve ever eaten.

Wishing you good luck on seeing this natural wonder.
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Oct 11th, 2019, 06:21 AM
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It's such a crapshoot that I'd definitely plan to visit someplace where there are things to do besides viewing the aurora. Just my opinion, but people trooping to Fairbanks in February for the 50-50 chance of seeing the northern lights means 50% of them (or more) are going to have to find something to do in Fairbanks (oy) in serious subzero weather. (Sorry, Fairbanksians.)

So I'd look for places where there's more on offer than the aurora, which can just as easily be obscured by clouds even if - above the clouds - the show is terrific. One that comes to mind is Shetland. Go in late January for the annual Up-Helly-Aa festival - https://www.uphellyaa.org/ - and spend a couple of nights away from the metropolis of Lerwick (ha ha) and you might have a good chance of seeing the "dancing men" (Gaelic) or the "merry dancers" (local.) https://www.shetland.org/things/expl...orthern-lights

I'd also give some consideration to heading south. The southern lights - Aurora Australis - are visible from the South Island of New Zealand, and, again, there's lots to do in the daytime as well. Remember, the seasons are reversed. It's also a great time, if interested, to visit Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef over in Australia, or Uluru in the "red centre" as the jellyfish are gone from the water in Queensland and the flies (and heat) are absent in the interior. https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/s...and/index.html
Gardyloo is online now  
Oct 11th, 2019, 06:25 AM
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Iíve never seen the Southern Lights but saw the Northern many times while in the Russian Artic and a few times from a plane over the Atlantic
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Oct 11th, 2019, 07:16 AM
  #15  
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Originally Posted by Gardyloo View Post
It's such a crapshoot that I'd definitely plan to visit someplace where there are things to do besides viewing the aurora. Just my opinion, but people trooping to Fairbanks in February for the 50-50 chance of seeing the northern lights means 50% of them (or more) are going to have to find something to do in Fairbanks (oy) in serious subzero weather. (Sorry, Fairbanksians.)
I spent a week in Fairbanks in February.
But it was for work.
Did not see the northern lights.
So I agree with your first sentence!
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Oct 11th, 2019, 07:37 AM
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I am like Sarah Palin....I have seen them from my house on a cold February night
Percy is online now  
Oct 11th, 2019, 08:18 AM
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A friend just came back from photographing polar bears at the Arctic Circle in Alaska, she had beautiful photos of the northern lights there.

I have seen them in my home town on northern Vancouver Island.
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Oct 11th, 2019, 09:14 AM
  #18  
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Originally Posted by raincitygirl View Post
A friend just came back from photographing polar bears at the Arctic Circle in Alaska, she had beautiful photos of the northern lights there.
That is such a pricey trip!
But I did make a nice bonus...
Polar bears...
starrs is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 09:56 AM
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I am deeply envious raincitygirl. Polar bears are probably the only thing I would have on a bucket list. Always wanted to go to Svalbard to see them. SHort of a lottery win it's not going to happen.
Go for it Starrs and share the photos
hetismij2 is offline  
Oct 11th, 2019, 10:05 AM
  #20  
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