Dancing and shimmering across the night sky. Colors green, someone gasps, suddenly we see bright yellow, and then red. Stretching high in into the sky, a curtain of color that continues to wave like the wind is blowing through an open window. Quickly, get into position, it’s time to take the photo of a lifetime.
Yes the Aurora can be this spectacular. It can can also be cool and subtle, gently arching low across the night sky. Sometimes it appears for a short time and other nights not at all. The thing to keep in mind with the Aurora is that it is not predictable, it is always different and two nights are never the same. Clouds can some times enhance and sometimes detract and on some nights make it impossible to see the sky.
Arctic Retreat sits on the southern edge of one of the darkest regions in northern sweden close to the arctic circle. Combined with our north facing aspect this means, if the conditions are right, we frequently have good opportunities to see the northern lights directly from our cabins.
The northern lights are a natural phenomenon and as such they have their own agenda. Our advice is to stay as many nights as you can in the remote parts of our region, including some time at Arctic Retreat. With luck you will see the Aurora on one or some of the nights but there are of course no guarantees. This scarcity however makes the lights all the more magical when you see them. You wont be the first to shed a tear if you are lucky enough to do so.
We are often asked when is the best time to see the lights. There are no hard statistics and even if there were the sun and the weather decide in their own independent chaotic processes what we end up seeing. Any night where we have darkness can be a good night.
Therefore, the first rule is we need to have darkness. After our two and a half months of summer light the darkness starts to reappear in late August and increases to its maximum in late December. It then reduces daily on to April when the midnight light again returns. Autumn (September and October) can be a great time as it is not yet that cold and the Autumn colors make photography spectacular by day as well as by night.
Winter gives us chances to see the lights with long dark nights as well as the exotic winter activities that are so popular with our guests. Here we can often combine an evening activity such as snow shoe walking or a dinner at our Aurora Lookout Hut with a search for the northern lights. These guided activities enhance the fun and the experience tremendously even if the northern lights are not at their full potential.
Are the lights better in the winter when the weather is really cold? Answer no, the only impact by the weather is the cloud cover at the time.
The Aurora is created by solar winds of charged particles that explode out into space from the sun. When the particles meet the Earth’s magnetic fields, which protects life on earth from most of this radiation, they follow the magnetic field lines towards the magnetic poles. The aurora is created when the particles collide with atoms in the atmosphere whereby the motion energy is transformed into visible light. The phenomenon is similar to the effect when electricity is passed through the gas of a neon light. The size of the Aurora show depends on the amount of solar wind coming into contact with the earth on any given day.
We hope you get to see the northern lights on your visit to the Arctic. Please look forward as well to the people, the food, the lifestyle, the activities, the closeness nature and you are likely to have an amazing time with or without the Aurora.