Iceland: The Northern lights

One of the top reasons we wanted to go to Iceland was to try and see the Northern lights, especially after reading that solar activity, which is what causes them, will lessen after March 2019 and will stay that way until late 2021 (solar activity runs in a 11-year cycle). What can I say, we lucked out.

As you can see from the photo above, we saw them. (All credit to Olly who amazingly photographed them for me so I could keep my gloves on and stay toasty - Google to find tips on how to snap them, but you really do need to know your camera settings and use a tripod.) And we saw them on our first night out too, extra fabulous as you need a few things aligning to see them. Firstly, you need to be in dark skies area - no city light pollution - and then you need that area to have clear skies (no clouds). If those two conditions are met, and the KP is high enough (at least a two, but a four ideally), you have a good chance (but not a guaranteed chance) of seeing the spectacle that is the aurora borealis.

I am very pleased that everything aligned for us but, a word of warning if you go hunting the lights and don't get why you're not seeing green or purple swirling lights, these colours are often only picked up via a camera. You'll likely see them as a whitish/pale coloured tinge in the sky - most often appearing as a faint streak or arch across the sky, like the photo above which is when they first started to appear for us - but if you're super lucky, and we were for a few minutes, you may experience them "dancing" around or see them more intensely. Another word of warning, wrap up! We weren't out that long in the grand scheme of things - some tours can be out until 2-3am, whereas we got back to our hotel after midnight - but it was FREEZING. If you think you've got enough layers on, add one more! And, whatever you do, don't forget your gloves.

As for how we saw them, we booked with Sterna Travel via TripAdvisor (it cost £41 each), and I can highly recommend them in that we saw them, their communication was good, and our trip included a most welcome hot chocolate and Icelandic doughnut - the only niggle I had was then we arrived at our viewing site we were left to our own devices and it would have been nice to have had some commentary about the stars, for example, whilst we were waiting for the lights to show up. Like with most tour operators (though do check), if we hadn't seen them we would have been able to rebook to try again another night. Thankfully we saw them!

Have you ever seen the Northern lights? If not, are they on your bucket list? x

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