Northern Lights

One of the great attractions in the Arctic are the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis.

Antarctic Peninsula

Northern Lights also known as the Aurora Borealis

One of the great attractions in the Arctic are the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The Northern Lights are caused by eruptions on the sun and can only be seen when it is dark. “Aurora” is Latin for “dawn” and was the Roman goddess of the dawn. Every morning she would fly across the sky to announce the coming of her brother Sol, the sun. The Aurora Borealis is located in the Northern Hemisphere. The Aurora Australis is located in the Southern hemisphere and is known as the “Southern Lights”. 

What are the Northern Lights?

Shimmering, twisting, and glowing in the Arctic night air, the Northern Lights are a beautiful reminder of our ever-ongoing relationship with our Sun. 

Solar winds bursting out from the Sun (in an event called a CME – Coronal Mass Ejection) carry charged particles through space for 2 to 5 days and into our upper atmosphere. Colliding and mixing with the Earth’s magnetosphere, these particles give us waves or bursts of colour depending on what kind of atmospheric particle they interact with (oxygen or nitrogen), and how high in the atmosphere they are when the collision occurs.

  • Blue to violet – below 100 km
  • Green – 100 – 240 km
  • Red – over 240 km

What is a Magnetosphere?

The magnetosphere acts somewhat like a force-field that causes harmful radiation particles to bounce off or curve around the Earth, keeping us safe. Found in the Earth’s ionosphere (about 80 through to 400 km high), the magnetosphere causes the Sun’s particles to curve away from us out into space.

However, the magnetosphere has funnels where it “emerges” from the Earth itself, and those funnels are the North and South magnetic poles. In these two locations the Sun’s particles don’t curve away; instead they are trapped by these funnels and end up hitting the oxygen and nitrogen particles in our atmosphere, giving us the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights) and the Aurora Australia in the region of the South Pole.

The Aurora Borealis in Myths and History

Being an awe-inspiring sight, it’s only natural that the Northern Lights would play a large role in a wide variety of cultures.

  • The very name “Aurora” comes from Roman mythology. Aurora was the goddess of the dawn. Every morning she would fly through the sky to announce the coming of the new sun and the day.
  • The Inuit found around Labrador, Canada believed the Aurora were torches set by spirits to lead the way for new arrivals to the heavens.
  • The Algonquin people told about Nanahbozho who, after finishing the creation of the Earth, travelled north and lit great fires to remind the people of Earth that they were still on his mind.
  • As far back as 344 B.C. Aristotle was making notes about the Northern Lights, attempting to compare them to sources of light and fire found on Earth.
  • The ancient Romans believed they were the entrances to great caves in the sky.
  • Some historians believe that the Auroras were the origin of dragon myths for both Eastern and Western cultures.
  • The Auroras get a mention in the Bible. Ezekiel (1:4) said “…a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire."
  • The Menominee people (Wisconsin, U.S.A.) thought that the Northern Lights were from torches held by giants as they tried to spearfish during the night.
  • The Mandan (North Dakota, U.S.A.) weren’t quite so cheerful, believing the Lights were from warriors of tribes in the north cooking their dead enemies.
  • Back in Europe, people of Britain thought the Lights were from wars in the sky, the rarer red lights signifying that blood had been spilled.

When is the Best Time to see the Northern Lights?

Technically there is no downtime when it comes to Auroras – the Sun is constantly sending out new waves of particles. However, since the Sun doesn’t completely set in the far north during the summer months your best bet of getting a good night’s view of the Northern Lights is from August through to April. Midnight is considered the best time of the day to get the clearest view.

The Northern Lights in Norway

Norway is a phenomenal location to go to if you want to experience the Auroras. Thanks to the Polar Night parts of Norway don’t experience true daylight between November and February, getting at best a twilight glow every day before true night returns. This leaves you with nearly 24 hours a day to catch a glimpse of the Lights.The fairly long periods of darkness in November and December make our Lofoten expeditions an ideal opportunity to admire the Northern Lights. Furthermore, the Northern Lights can only be seen when there is little light disturbance, something that is guaranteed in Lofoten. 

Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Lofoten © Jan Belgers-oceanwide Expeditions

The Northern Lights in Greenland

In Greenland legends hold that when you see the Northern Lights it means that the dead are playing football with the skull of a walrus. Like Norway, the best months to visit Greenland for the Aurora is from the September through April. During the summer months Greenland experiences Midnight Sun, the season when the sun never truly sets.

Northern Lights trips

Oceanwide Expeditions is happy to provide a number of differently-themed cruises that will take you to experience the wonder of the Northern Lights.


东格陵兰 – Scoresby Sund, 北极光
直到 800 USD 折扣

东格陵兰 – Scoresby Sund, 北极光

在Scoresby Sund见证北极光

PLA17-17. 东格陵兰巡航,斯科比斯湾,我们在这里可以观察北极光。我们穿过北极圈并且继续向北,有可能看到鲸鱼。在傍晚,我们会看到第一座冰山出现在眼前,当我们接近格陵兰的东海岸靠近Kap Brewster附近。


18 Sep - 25 Sep, 2017


3900 USD 3100 USD 800 USD 折扣

东格陵兰 – Scoresby Sund, 北极光
直到 1150 USD 折扣

东格陵兰 – Scoresby Sund, 北极光

在Scoresby Sund见证北极光

PLA16-17. 东格陵兰巡航,斯科比斯湾,我们在这里可以观察北极光。我们穿过北极圈并且继续向北,有可能看到鲸鱼。在傍晚,我们会看到第一座冰山出现在眼前,当我们接近格陵兰的东海岸靠近Kap Brewster附近。


11 Sep - 18 Sep, 2017


5800 USD 4650 USD 1150 USD 折扣


斯匹次卑尔根 – 东北部格陵兰, 北极光

一次经典的三岛航线: 冰,因纽特人,最偏远

PLA15-17. 从朗伊尔城航行到布拉德福特和西斯匹次卑尔根岛北海岸的莫芬岛,然后沿着格陵兰北海岸航行一直到阿库雷里(冰岛)。接近格陵兰我们将试图穿过海冰进入Foster Bugt,尝试我们在Myggebugten的第一次登陆。越过老猎人的小屋(在上个世纪挪威人设陷阱捕捉北极熊和北极狐)这是一片广袤的苔原,麝香牛就落户在这里。


29 Aug - 11 Sep, 2017


5950 USD

中斯匹次卑尔根, 北極的秋天

NOO28-17. 斯匹次卑尔根中部巡航给旅客提供了欣赏美丽峡湾的机会,更有机会看到在这里生活工作的人们。这次航程也是一个非常精彩的方式,让我们融入野生动物在自然栖息地,这也是北极旅游非常吸引人的地方:北极光。在早上离开Tryghamna,航行至Bell sund峡湾北侧,欣赏那里迷人的地质和惊人的景观。Bell Sund峡湾有两大分支((Van Mijenfjord, Van Keulenfjord)和一个小海湾(Recherchefjord)。它地质学上迷人的,创造了惊人的景观,比如狭窄细长的Akseløya岛,几乎完全阻断了Van Mijenfjord。


13 Oct - 20 Oct, 2017


2650 USD

北部冰岛 – 北极光,北极圈 和 鲸鱼

RVR32-17. 参观格里姆塞岛,在引导下做一次穿越北极圈的散步。晚上我们有机会看到北极光。当我们穿越 Skjafandi湾时,我们有机会看到座头鲸,小须鲸,白喙海豚和鼠海豚。


16 Oct - 19 Oct, 2017


1200 USD