There has never been so much interest in the Northern Lights. Ever since TV showed Joanna Lumley tearfully ticking the Aurora off her wish list, we have become almost obsessed by Mother Nature’s celestial wonder. A whole industry has grown up around the Northern Lights to such an extent that professional Aurora hunting has become a full time job for enthusiasts living in the likes of Finnish and Swedish Lapland.
Aurora hunters are pretty much nocturnal and rather like vampires in that they really only emerge once darkness has fallen. The problem these enthusiasts face therefore is that the Aurora Borealis is only visible when the skies are dark and in high summer, Northern Scandinavia is bathed in the 24 hours of polar light caused by the Midnight Sun. The Midnight Sun is itself a remarkable experience but for the Aurora hunter it is a frustrating inconvenience because it renders potentially spectacular displays of the Northern Lights completely invisible.
Here at The Aurora Zone, we have been helping our clients see the Northern Lights for many years and were the very first UK company to offer dedicated Aurora Borealis holidays, so it’s fair to say that we have experienced the anticipation of autumn many times. However, this year got us particularly excited.
Never have we eagerly anticipated the arrival of late-summer’s darker skies more so than for the season. The reason for this excitement is that in June, NASA confirmed that we have reached the very peak of the current solar cycle and geophysical research suggests that the most significant solar events happen in the period shortly after this peak.
Basically, we’ve been longing for the darker skies of early September because the potential for great Auroras over the next six months has rarely greater.
We have not been disappointed!
The Aurora hunting season has started not so much with a bang but with a series of explosions; absolutely massive explosions on the surface of the Sun which have caused some astonishing Northern Lights to appear in higher latitudes. Naturally, our Aurora Zone guides and photographers have emerged from their summer lethargy and have been embracing the displays with the excited and childlike enthusiasm of an eight-year-old boy on the first day of the new football season.
As you can see from the images below, it seems that our destinations in Finnish and Swedish Lapland have been particularly strong beneficiaries of this early-season magic. We’ve collated a few of our best photographs and if this is a precursor for the forthcoming winter, we are in for a remarkable Aurora chasing season.
Finland has been on the receiving end of some incredible September skies, and two of our very best photographers were out and about catching the very best displays.
Markku Inkila’s favourite Aurora viewing spot is the Paatsjoki Bridge, which lies very close to the Russian border in Finnish Lapland. On one evening in early September, his camera picked up this stunningly powerful and intense Aurora.
Meanwhile, Aurora photographer extraordinaire Antti Pietikainen was witnessing this incredible display which, to us, looked like a gigantic green flower blossoming or perhaps a serpent rearing its head up to the heavens.
Finland’s neighbour Sweden has been on the receiving end of some incredible evening skies!
Ingemar Grape captured these searching fingers of green Auroral light across the Tärendö River.
A few hours’ drive north, our partners in Abisko, Lights Over Lapland have been super-enthused by the amazing start to this Aurora hunting season, and it’s not difficult to see why!
So, as you can see, we have had an amazing start to the new Aurora hunting season and if these displays are anything to go by, the period up to early April will see us getting very little sleep. Not to worry though, we can hibernate while that pesky Midnight Sun is overhead next summer.