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Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis/Northern Lights travel tips

See the skies sparkle over Alaska, Canada, Norway, Sweden and beyond with our guide to viewing the northern lights

When to see the northern lights

The aurora borealis can never be guaranteed but there are ways to maximise your chances of seeing it. Scientists at NASA claim 2012-2013 will offer the most intense displays in 50 years as we head towards the peak of the solar-maximum cycle. The colour, strength and movement of each display differs depending on the conditions and gases in the atmosphere. 

The lights are best seen on dark nights, from October to March. The lights are also active in milder September and April.

Northern lights health and safety

Obviously the cold is the main concern: the best northern lights viewing is during the winter months, at extreme north latitudes. You might find yourself standing outside for long periods.

If you book a trip with a tour operator they may provide thick over-garments (check before booking) but pack plenty of layers. Underwear should be synthetic rather than cotton; merino wool is an ideal choice. A down jacket will be useful, as will warm gloves (two pairs) and a balaclava.

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