Best place to see the Northern Lights

Best place to see the Northern Lights: We get asked this question more than any other. You can observe the aurora borealis from many places in the northern hemisphere, but we believe here at the Aurora Borealis Observatory is the best place in the world to see them and we have facts to back that up. When looking for the perfect place to tick off your northern lights bucket list holiday there is only one word you need to think about, location. Our best tip is to put yourself in the best position and let them come to you.


best place to see the northern lights

best place to see the Aurora Borealis


Location, location, location, this is the most important factor and will dictate whether you see the aurora borealis or you don’t. Of course, you can see the northern lights across the very north of the northern hemisphere but the diversity of these areas and the weather systems that accompany them, play a vital part between a successful and an unsuccessful aurora holiday. Below we have listed three separate location factors that will show how important location is and show how the unique positioning the Aurora Borealis Observatory makes it the best place in the world to see the northern lights.


restaurant at the Aurora Borealis Observatory

(restaurant at the Aurora Borealis Observatory) 


Location – Weather


A huge factor in seeing the aurora borealis or not is the weather. The interactions between charged particles from the Sun and the gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, that generate the northern lights, occur at a higher altitude than the highest forming cloud. The aurora borealis can typically appear from a height of 80km and above which is pretty high up. The highest cloud that forms that can obscure the aurora form up to 10-15km. Many people go on northern lights holidays to Iceland and a high percentage return without seeing the lights. Iceland is notorious for having cloudy skies, their position in the north Atlantic Ocean means that during the winter they are hit by many winter storms which makes the success rate very low.


aurora borealis view



Our position in Senja, Northern Norway couldn’t be more perfect, many of the large weather systems either land much further south in Norway or move north towards Iceland. What also makes the position of the Aurora Borealis Observatory special is that we are in the middle of a rain shadow effect area. Our weather systems normally come from the south west of the island. The mountains to the south of the Observatory act as a sponge, as the air approaches them and lifts, it condenses and squeeze out all their moisture. The mountains soak up all the rain for us and leave us with clear skies on the other side. Of course, we get a lot of snow during the winter but that usually comes from weather systems that are too large to disperse but following those we enjoy clear skies in our winter wonderland.




Location – Auroral Oval


As mentioned earlier, the northern lights can be observed in many places in the northern hemisphere, this is because the charged particles that are ejected from the Sun are filtered down to the poles of the Earth along the magnetic field lines. Sometimes we can have a solar storm where the density of the particles increases, the stronger the storm the more chances of seeing the aurora from lower latitudes. However, it is only in the far north of the northern hemisphere that the aurora borealis appears on a regular and sometimes daily occurrence. In areas farther south like Helsinki and Oslo, the northern lights are observed less than 5-10 times every 11 years. Here in Senja, if the skies are clear we will see them nearly every night, this is because of our position within the auroral oval. When the charged particles interact with the oxygen and nitrogen in our atmosphere, they create the aurora and this occurs in an oval around the Earth’s magnetic north pole. These interactions occur directly above the Aurora Borealis Observatory and often we will see a spectacular aurora corona

Because of all these solar and atmospheric dynamics taking place right above our head it makes our location the perfect place to see the northern lights.


best place to see the northern lights


Location – Comfort


Chasing the northern lights can be cold, dark and sometimes you can put yourself in unnecessary danger. Like we mentioned at the beginning of the article, put yourself in the best possible location to see the aurora borealis. The difficult part of this is some of these locations can be extremely remote and in a hostile environment. The opposite of this is the Aurora Borealis Observatory, not only are you putting yourself in the best location to see the lights, you will be staying in picturesque and comfortable accommodation especially designed to observe the northern lights. Our apartments are comfortable living areas with large windows looking out over the spectacular scenery of Senja, quite often our guests will observe the northern lights from the comfort and warmth of their apartments. We are also far away from any large sources of light pollution so the skies above our resort are star and aurora filled waiting for you to experience


best place to see the northern lights


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