The Northern Lights season has arrived in Iceland
In the last days of August, magnificent sightings of the Northern Lights have already been reported, although they have been seen by a lucky few.
Seeing this spectacle of nature is usually on the bucket list of many people, and the Northern Lights hunters have to keep in mind that the Lights are a natural phenomenon and thus they can’t be guaranteed. It is no way to know for sure when the Northern Lights will appear, also certain conditions are needed to be seen.
What conditions do you need to see the Northern Lights?
- Solar activity: The sun releases electrically charged particles (solar wind), when these particles collide with the gases in our atmosphere they cause this amazing natural phenomenon. Therefore, a high solar wind activity is essential.
- Darkness is needed: During the darkest months in Iceland, when we have more hours at night, you will have more opportunities to see the Northern Lights. Traditionally it is said that they can be seen from September to mid-April, although as has happened now, if the right conditions are met in August, you may be lucky and see them.
- Clear skies: Another key factor. You should also make sure there is little or no clouds in the sky because the clouds will block the visibility of the Northern Lights.
- No light pollution: Maybe this factor is the simplest since we can achieve it ourselves. Getting away from the light pollution of the city or any point of artificial light will help you see the Auroras if they are happening at that time.
Where can you see the Northern Lights in Iceland?
There is no specific place where we can ensure that it is better to see the Aurora, you can be lucky and see them from your hotel room in Reykjavík, or you can leave the city on a night with clear skies and wait for hours and see nothing. (at least you will see a nice starry sky)
Guided Northern Lights tours or hunting for the Northern Lights on your own?
If you book a Northern Lights tour there will be a guide with you who is an expert in finding the Northern Lights. Your guide will take you out to the countryside away from the city lights to the best locations to spot them. The guide can also help you photograph the Lights. Usually companies offer that if the tour is canceled or you won't see the Northern Lights then you get to go on another tour for free.
On the other hand, you can rent a car and explore at your own pace and with all the freedom you want. But there are few things you need to keep in mind if you decide to go out on your own.
During winter in Iceland sometimes you will find icy roads, keep that in mind in case you are not used to winter driving. If you go on your own you also need to be familiar with the Northern Lights forecast so you don't waste your time. You can find different pages and apps that help you with that. You can also check the Icelandic Met Office where you will see the forecast of clear skies and the forecast of solar activity.