"" Writer's Wanderings: On The Bucket List - The Northern Lights

Thursday, April 24, 2014

On The Bucket List - The Northern Lights

It always seems to follow that whenever there is a natural event that will occur in the skies our weather becomes cloudy. We did get to see Haley's Comet a few years ago but that was because it hung in the sky for several weeks. We've missed most of the meteor showers and most recently the Blood Moon phenomenon. There have been a few times where the news people have said we might see the Northern Lights but it didn't happen from our vantage point. So on to the bucket list goes "see Northern Lights."

There are quite a few areas to which you can travel to see this amazing phenomenon but before I jump ahead, let me tell you a little about the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. It is a light display in the night sky caused by charged particles in the magnetic field of the earth's atmosphere. Hmmm. Maybe not the best technical explanation but there are lots of science sites that will have you scratching your head to figure out what they are saying.

The Northern Lights occur mostly in the upper north latitudes and are caused by geomagnetic storms. Activity peaks with sunspot activity that is on an eleven year cycle and is more active during the equinoxes, spring and autumn. Confused? Well, when we get closer to planning an actual trip to see them, we'll do a little more research.

Meanwhile, we can take a look at the places to choose from for viewing. Fairbanks comes to mind first since when we were there some time ago, there were tours advertised for the purpose of viewing the Northern Lights. One resort that sounds inviting is the Chena Hot Spa Resort. Not only is there the spa but they have a heated lodge from which you can view the lights or if you like, you can take a ride in a vehicle to a ridge where there is a heated shelter where they serve you warm beverages as you watch. The only drawback is the time. The viewing doesn't happen until after 10 p.m. but the desk will give you a wake-up call if you want to nap until then.

There are several other options near Fairbanks and you can always stay in Fairbanks and then drive to some of the viewing cabins in the surrounding area. The trip does require sleeping during a good part of the day in order to stay up for the night time viewing.

Another place where we have seen advertising for viewing the Northern Lights is Tromso, Norway. Probably the best place to stay unless you're up for being out in wild. The trip to the base camp where the tour takes you though is a three hour ride. Check out the ratings on Tripadvisor for the Safari Base Stations Day Tour.

There are a few other spots to see the Lights in Sweden, Iceland, and several other northern countries. The SmarterTravel website has a neat pictorial article on all the other places. The hot springs in Fairbanks still appeals the most to me but I'm still checking out all the others. Have you viewed the Northern Lights? If so, from where?

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