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An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth’s magnetic field. It is also referred to as the polar lights and in the northern latitudes the effect is known as the aurora borealis or the northern lights. It was named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas. Its southern counterpart, the aurora australis (or the southern lights) is visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America and Australia.

Although the northern lights are present year round you can’t see them when the nights are light as the background sky needs to be quite dark, so the best viewing is from October to early April. The northern lights are best viewed over northern Scandinavia, the southern tip of Greenland and continuing over northern Canada, Alaska and along the northern coast of Siberia. The coasts of the Norwegian counties of Troms and Finnmark where the occurrence is greatest, makes northern Norway, due to its ease of access and mild winter climate, an attractive destination for people interested in observing this atmospheric phenomenon. In Troms and Finnmark, the northern lights can be seen every other clear night, if not even more frequently. From southern Norway, sightings would be only a few times a month while in central Europe hardly more than a few times a year. They have even been seen from the Mediterranean but only a few times each century.

You can experience the lights from the comfort of a Hurtigruten ship. Starting out in Bergen, you cruise across the Arctic Circle to Kirkenes, Finnmark, through the heart of coastal Norway, in the warm and comfortable surroundings of your ship. The fleet consists of 12 ships with 10 operating Norwegian Coastal voyages during winter. You can never tell when the fascinating range of lights from blue to purple and yellow tones will appear and disappear but sailing with Hurtigruten above the arctic circle will give you a good chance to experience the colourful, ghostly swirls of light. The early months of this year saw some very strong northern lights activity and the Royal Geographical Survey have predicted that the required ‘solar storms’ in winter 2011/2012 will be just as strong.

 Northern Lights - Norway

         So for your ‘hunting the light’          experience call the team           at McIntosh Travel

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