Swedish Meatballs Are Delicious, But You Should See Their Auroras

One of the better aurora videos that captures a display in great detail in real time. It really heats up at about a minute 30 seconds in.

We had a fine but brief display of the aurora this week over the northern states and Canada on Thursday night, March 15. Would that we all could have seen it from Sweden’s Lapland. That’s the location of the video, and it was made on March 14 local time. Some of us have seen auroral displays like this one, but few videos I’ve seen capture it live (no time lapse) so well. I don’t even mind the the twisting and turning of the camera. During a major aurora, things happen so fast, your neck swivels about like Elvis’s hips — you don’t want to miss a thing!

Some of you have never seen a big aurora only because of clouds, circumstance or location. So why not walk in the photographer’s footsteps? Book a flight to Kiruna, Sweden and sign up for the Nightly Aurora Photo Tour through Lights Over Lapland. The flight might set you back about $1,500 but the tour is only $145. You’ll take a bus to Abisko National Park north of the Arctic Circle (latitude 68°N) and enjoy a sky completely free of light pollution. I’ve read it’s the best place on Earth to see the northern lights. They book from Dec. 1 to March 24 and again from Oct. 4 through Nov. 30.

The video was made in Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland (circled). At right, a plot of the auroral oval for March 17. On that night, auroras were seen again over northern Scandinavia as they are on many nights. Google Maps (left) and NOAA

The reason Lapland and the northern Scandinavian countries are best bets for seeing northern lights is the same reason why Hudson Bay and Fairbanks make great viewing spots. All these areas lie under the permanent auroral oval, so the lights are visible almost every dark night of the year. You can plan a trip there and almost be guaranteed of seeing the aurora. For locations further south, bigger solar storms are needed; they cause the oval to expand southward, delivering the northern lights to the skies of Minnesota and Wisconsin.

No auroras are visible in the summer from the arctic north because the sun is either out or bright twilights wash out the night from late spring to late summer.

Even if you don’t make it to Lapland for a while, you can always check for northern lights on the Lights Over Lapland Abisko webcam.