Northern Lights Not On A Schedule - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Northern Lights Not On A Schedule

Published September 5, 2013

A scientist tells reporters that he often gets phone calls from hotels in the countryside, asking when the Northern Lights will appear.
There has been a shortage of Northern Lights for the past few years, Vísir reports, and this has caused no small amount of concern amongst hotel owners in the countryside. Witnessing the Northern Lights has been a large tourist draw in Iceland, replete with bus companies willing to offer “Northern Lights tours”.
Gunnlaugur Björnsson, an astrophysicist and the chairperson of the Atmospheric Department of the Science Institute of the University of Iceland, told reporters that he has received numerous calls from people asking when the Northern Lights are going to appear, and under what conditions.
Unfortunately, the Northern Lights are impossible to predict with any inaccuracy. They are caused by solar particles colliding with the Earth’s magnetic field, he said, and do not operate on any set schedule.
Another common belief is that the best time to see the Northern Lights is on cold, clear nights. This is true, but only because a) “night” does not begin until the weather starts getting colder, and b) clear nights tend to be colder than cloudy nights – and also have greater visibility.


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