Northern lights, scientifically called Aurora borealis are a unique natural phenomenon, appearing in the northern part of the northern hemisphere. In Roman myths it was referred to as "dawn of the north“ - Aurora was the goddess of the dawn.
Aurora borealis are caused by charged particles that reach the earths atmosphere during solar winds. Attracted by both poles of the earth’s magnetic field, these charged particles react with the molecules of the upper area of the atmosphere. This reaction causes light that appears in different colors, forming arches, curls, waves, patterns or scattered clouds across the sky. The different colours depend on the type of gas particles colliding.
This phenomenon takes place all year in all kinds of weather, but of course they can only be seen in the dark night sky. In Varanger the period between October and March is best for looking for northern lights. They are best seen in rural areas, where city lights can’t interfere with the night sky. New moon and a cloudless sky improve your chances of witnessing this spectacular celestial display even more.
Hasselnes wind shelter in the northernmost point of Vardø, designed by Biotope, is one of the key places not only for birding but also for watching Auroras in Varanger. Northern lights can be seen anywhere in Varanger from early September to mid April.