Aurora borealis

Aurora Borealis in Aurora Sky Station - Abisko - Lapland - Sweden.

Sweden - Northern Lights

Another name for the Northern Lights is Aurora Borealis. This is used to describe the light display in the sky particularly in the high latitudes;namely the Arctic and Antarctic.

The Northern Lights is a natural phenomenon that occurs across the Arctic skies in Sweden. It is when charged particles discharged by the sun reach the earth’s atmosphere on solar winds and then collide with gaseous particles. It is the different gases which create various colours, usually pale light greens and pinks. As Lapland (north of Sweden) is close to the magnetic north pole;this is a prime site from which to view and observe the phenomenon.

The Northern Lights appear in Sweden, from around the beginning of September in Kiruna to around the end of March all over Swedish Lapland. Kiruna and Luleå (where the Northern Lights may be seen from) are the last two habitats of human civilization in northern Sweden. For the best chance of viewing the Northern Lights it is recommended to visit the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko National Park (located about 100 km west of Kiruna). Although the phenomenon is not guaranteed, the chances are more likely at Abisko (which is surrounded by mountains) as it is known for its clear skies. On an extremely rare occasion, spectators may hear clapping, crackling or static noises associated with the phenomena. The clean air in the area is also exhilarating although cold. When visiting Aurora Sky Station, there are some guidelines on clothing to wear.

Wear extra warm clothing, especially while standing outside and watching the northern lights for extended periods. This means a long exposure to the bitter cold weather. Consequently long johns, a long sleeved undershirt, warm sweater, scarf, hat and gloves are best worn. Opt for footwear that is larger than normal for your shoe size;to allow space for insulating air and socks. Wearing a warm down jacket as an outer layer with other insulating layers of clothing is all necessary. The Aurora Sky Station also advises visitors to not shower or take a sauna prior to going up to the Aurora Sky Station. Also it is for your own protection to not use water-based moisturisers on your face, since they can cause frostbite.

There is a Mountain Station about 10 minutes away, which offers accommodation and a restaurant that serves daily meals. Transportation to this base can be via train (as the Mountain Station has its own train station) via motor vehicle from the European route E10 or aeroplane that lands in Kiruna with scheduled bus rides to the station.

There is a chairlift which takes visitors up to the observation tower, the station’s Northern Lights exhibition, café and souvenir shop. As every night there are guided tours in the winter season when the Northern Lights appear, the Aurora Sky Station offers an insightful experience. All visitors may have a chance to learn about the charged particles from the sun entering into the Earth's atmosphere, and how these particles are captured by the magnetic field and propelled to the poles.