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Northern Lights

The Northern Lights are nature’s own light show and have always been the object of fascination and wonder.  Legend has it; the Northern Lights have been seen as everything from evil spirits to celestial wars with their marching armies. These beautiful displays have, over time, given rise to a wealth of works of art, myths, legends and stories.

The explanation given by modern science is no less extraordinary. A stream of charged particles called the solar wind is continuously emitted from the Sun and when these particles interact with the Earth's upper atmosphere light is emitted from the ionization of oxygen and nitrogen atoms. The different constituent elements produce a range of colours with oxygen giving a greenish glow and nitrogen giving a blue or red glow. Displays of aurora can never be guaranteed but the likelihood of seeing a good display can be maximized by viewing from locations in the high latitudes such as Iceland. The level of solar activity is another important factor as the strength of the solar wind is determined by the Sun's activity which runs on a cycle of approximately 11 years. The cycle picked up strongly in 2010 with many displays reported from northern latitudes and is due to peak in 2013. This winter is set to be one of the best yet.

Make the most of your Northern Lights experience with our top photography tips.

Northern Lights Photography Tips»