Norway & The Northern Lights

Norway is a beautiful destination at any time of the year. Visit in springtime and discover the Arctic awakening where there are great contrasts between the southern and northern part of Norway and snow caps still decorate the mountains until the early summer.

Summer lets you experience the midnight sun, where thanks to the light during these months, the whole country bursts to life, where flowers bloom and waterfalls cascade towards the ocean. As summer fades and changes to autumn reds and yellows fill the mountainside and a sprinkle of snow forms on the highest peaks and Winter is perhaps the most special time of year when the air is crisp and fresh, the landscape covered in virgin snow creating a magical winter wonderland where hopefully you will witness the mesmerising Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.

Witnessing the Northern Lights is on many people’s wish list but what is the natural phenomenon and how is it caused?

We asked Dr John Mason MBE, Principal Lecturer at the South Downs Planetarium, Chichester, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society “The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are caused
when electrically charged particles originating from the Sun’s outer atmosphere are funnelled down into Earth’s atmosphere in a region around the north magnetic pole, known as the Auroral Oval.
As these particles collide with atoms and molecules of oxygen and nitrogen high in the atmosphere they excite them to produce the light that we see from scattered patches of diffuse light, to arcs,
bands, streamers, rippling curtains or drapes of light and even searchlight-like rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow. Sometimes there is little or no movement, but at other times the aurora flickers and dances across the sky in a quite mesmerising way.
It is the inherent unpredictability of the aurora that particularly fascinates people, together with the expectation that one might just be lucky enough to witness a truly spectacular display and no matter how wonderful an aurora one has seen, one always hopes for something better the next time!

Dr Mason MBE works closely with Hurtigruten, the Norwegian cruise specialist, and this year will be his busiest ever which is a sign of the enormous popularity not only of the Northern Lights but also of the world’s most beautiful sea voyage’. He has been incredibly fortunate over the years because even at times when the weather forecast has been rather poor, he has never failed to experience the Northern Lights on a Hurtigruten cruise.

I always enjoy the cruises with Hurtigruten because quite apart from the chance of seeing the Northern Lights, the coastal scenery is fabulous and everchanging, the ships are very comfortable, the crews are incredibly professional, friendly and helpful – and the food is superb

Under normal conditions, the auroral oval lies to the north of Tromsø, so the section of the voyage from Tromsø to Kirkenes and back is generally the best location for seeing the Lights, but it is possible to see them as far south as Bergen and quite often within the Arctic Circle.

Travel article courtesy of Cruise Select, Bedford’s leading Cruise Experts
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