Norway | Arctic phenomena explained

Norway, Arctic Cathedral Tromsø

by Catherine Kelly

Located partially within the Arctic circle, Norway is a place where you can witness some of the North Pole’s more interesting phenomena.

Year round there is something otherworldly to experience.

Here we explain in layman’s terms the Arctic phenomena of the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights.

Midnight Sun, North Cape, Norway

Explained: The Midnight Sun

The tilt of the Earth on its axis means that as the northern hemisphere goes through its summer season the North Pole is facing towards the sun and facing away through winter.

This means that destinations north of the Arctic circle experience long periods of daylight in summer – 18 hours in the southern regions and up to a full 24 hours of daylight during the summer solstice. The sun doesn’t set, rather hovers on the horizon affording some magnificent colours and an eerie experience of sunshine in the middle of the night.

The extra hours of sunlight provide an energy boost to the flora and fauna and you’ll see the Norwegian locals soaking up the sun well in to the night, making summer in Norway an exciting time to visit.

Where to see this phenomena

Long summer days are on offer across much of Norway but to experience the Midnight Sun you need to be close to or north of the Arctic Circle. Tromsø, the self-proclaimed capital of the Arctic, offers plenty of activities to experience across your longer day and is home to the world’s northernmost botanical garden.

Norway Aurora Borealis, photo credit visitnorway.comExplained: The Northern Lights

The sun’s solar winds collide with Earth’s magnetic field and are led in a circle around the magnetic North Pole, interacting in the upper layers of the atmosphere. The energy released from this interaction produces the incredibly beautiful, if somewhat ghostly, Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights.

This phenomena occurs through late Autumn through to Winter/early Spring. Characterized into three distinct ‘light shows’ you can look for three green bands, flickering curtains or a rolling smoke. Whatever you are lucky enough to see will seduce you with its luminous green tones and subtle tinges of rose pink.

Where to see this phenomena

The North Cape is one of the most accessible places from which to witness the Northern Lights. It is only separated from the North Pole by the Svalbard Islands, marking the edge of mainland Europe. There are no guarantees of spotting them however. It is sometimes necessary to spend a number of weeks within the one spot to catch a glimpse – waiting for a night with no cloud cover and the solar winds to blow in your favour, at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Click here for more information on our small group tours to Norway, Scandinavian Discovery tour or Norway & Iceland tour.


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