Northern lights

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Vegard Stien
Nordlys over Tromsø

Experience northern lights in Tromsø

In Tromsø there is always a good chance of seeing the northern lights in the period September until April. These are the months of the year when it is dark enough outside to see the lights dance across the sky.

Tromsø is in the centre of the northern lights’ oval, which means we can see the northern lights even when the activity is low. The northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, is our favourite natural phenomenon. It is unpredictable and surprising. It can appear almost out of nothing, fade away and reappear in just minutes. Experiencing the northern lights is something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Your chance of seeing the aurora depends on four things:
  • Northern lights activity (or solar activity): this is usually measured in the KP-index. The activity is measured from 0 (low activity) to 9 (high activity), where everything above 4 is extremely good. In Tromsø we can see northern lights even at KP 1, and it is a good day at KP 3 and above. The aurora forecast is normally presented as a three day prediction, and the activity tends to repeat every 27 day. Check out the aurora forecast on Spaceweatherlive.com. But unpredictable as the aurora is, the KP level doesn’t always reflect the reality. Learn more about the scientific explanation here
     
  • Weather: since the northern lights are created well above clouds, we depend on the weather forecast. All clear sky is to prefer, but even just a break in the clouds can be enough to spot the dancing lights. In the Tromsø region we have many microclimates, which means that chances of better weather can be just a short drive away. On Storm.no and yr.no you can check out the weather forecast for Tromsø and the surrounding areas.
     
  • Minimal light pollution: to see the northern lights it should be as dark as possible, since light pollution makes it more difficult to see the aurora. We often see the northern lights in the city centre, but if you go on a guided tour to more remote places, it can increase your chances and you will see the northern lights stronger than in the city.
     
  • Patience: when it comes to the northern lights it is all about being at the right place at the right time. You can get lucky by seeing the amazing colours in the sky by just looking up, or it can require a bit more effort to be successful. Some days you might have to spend hours outside in the search of the auroras. Read our tips on how to dress for arctic temperatures here.
Did you know?

Tromsø is one of the places in the world with the highest probability of seeing the northern lights.

This is due to our perfect location just in the center of the northern lights oval – the area where it always is some northern lights activity. Another plus with the Tromsø region is that it is one of the most comfortable areas to search for the northern lights due to our relatively warm temperatures at this latitude north and it is an area where it is easy to travel around.

Book Northern Lights tours here
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