What is the Aurora Borealis?
Northern Lights of Iceland is a natural phenomenon that occurs when the Van Allen radiation belt (a layer of energetic charged particles that surround the Earth) is "overloaded" with particles that flow down the magnetic field of the Earth and crash into the luminesce materials in the atmosphere - in the area of the ionosphere, causing them to release energy.
The phenomenon occurs during the increased activity of the sun. The oxygen atoms in the atmosphere are regularly ionized and when the "solar wind", which is charged too, comes, an encounter between the ionized atoms requires energy release, reflected in the appearance of the aurora.
The Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are often found near the magnetic poles of the Earth, because the ionized atoms are attracted to them respectively. The color of the aurora is determined according to the type of atom. Green, which is the most common color, is created as a result of a crash into an oxygen atom. While more rare colors, as red and blue, are formed by a crash into hydrogen or nitrogen atoms, or hitting an atom at a higher level of the atmosphere.
When is the best time to see the Aurora in Iceland?
The best time to see the natural phenomenon is between September and April. During the summer there is light for most of the day, making the northern lights viewing impossible. The best time to see the northern lights in Iceland is around midnight when the purplish aurora of Iceland should pass over.
Where is the best place to watch Aurora?
The chances to watch the Northern Lights are the best at Iceland's wilderness. You need to make sure you stay in the area without any air pollution, so it is recommended to come out of major cities and towns to the open spaces. Nevertheless frequently, Aurora can be seen in the city itself.
For how long this phenomenon can be watched during the night?
Usually the Aurora Borealis phenomenon in Iceland can be watched for a few minutes several times during the night. However, there were cases when the Aurora Borealis was observed for several hours, although it is quite rare. The amount of energy produced during the display is equal to small nuclear explosion.
Are there any myths and folklore about Iceland's Northern Lights?
There are plenty. Myths and folklore related to Aurora Borealis exist in the Inuit culture (people of Greenland and Alaska) and in the Norse mythology. Aurora Borealis was even mentioned in the Bible. In Iceland once believed that if pregnant women look at the Aurora, their children will be born cross-eyed.
Aurora Borealis Forecast
There is a website of the University of Alaska that gives a forecast on the chances of seeing the northern lights all over the world. To see forecast for Iceland click on the maps in the box (Current View), located at the top left until you get to Europe. Click here for the website