Strange hues begin to emerge at sundown; of green, blue, orange and reds. Slowly and stealthily, like a sleeping child, unfolding its tiny fingers in its sleep, unknowing of it all.
The colours spread, subtly yet in a magic motion over the skies of Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Alaska and the northern regions of Russia and Canada.
The magic that I’m talking of here is Aurora Borealis, or, the phenomenon that is famously, lovingly called as the Northern Lights. Every year, travellers from all over the world cross oceans and continents to watch the skies light up.
But, did you know that a majority of them have been waiting for year 2013?
Reason – the Northern lights are shining at their brightest this year.
Reason for that reason – Solar Maximum, the activity that takes place when the particles in Earth’s atmosphere collide with Sun’s. To keep it simple, imagine a million silver stars that shine brighter by colliding against each other.
As magical as it might seem, Northern Lights occur as a result of this collision of particles. And 2013 brings surprise for all the celestial watchers, for Solar Maximum will touch a pace that’s faster than ever before.
To add more shimmer to this fire show in space is the fact that the show will continue from September to late November. Now that’s one more month for the lighted skies compared to any other year.
What if you miss this?
Oops, I wouldn’t want you to do that.
Still, if you must know it, then you got to wait for at least another 10 years to have the horizon lighting up this bright. Trust me when I say that, for a little birdie from NASA tweeted so.
Where to go?
Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Alaska, northern Russia and northern Canada. Some of these place have seen a recent mushrooming of hotels. Some of those even have alarms that go off at the first sighting of the Northern Lights. And if you think that’s cool, read this – many tour operators in the region have come up with special packages and camping options to take you right there, beneath the lantern skies.
What to do?
Book your tickets; make a beeline; stuff your backpacks; put in all the hooded jackets; rent a telescope (if you can); buy a pair of binoculars (you must even if you can’t) if you want a closer look. If not, then the Northern Lights are so starkly visible around an hour after the sunset that even I can put down my glasses and watch the contours shifting shape.
What else do you say to a sight that looks this amazing even from space!
While I scour for more reason that make you travel (apart from travelling), do put in a comment to tell us if you have seen the Northern Lights before. Or, may be share your travel plan or let us know any such hot travel news. Will be happy to hear. Till then, travel.
About the author
Shikha Gautam loves to play with steering wheels, roads, words, flute and guitar among other things. Not necessarily in that order! You can contact her on twitter @Shikha Gautam