The Northern Lights May Peak This Week As Earth Syncs With An Angry Sun

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? If not, it could be your week for more than one reason.

One of the greatest sights in unaided astronomy, the Northern Lights (or Southern Lights south of the equator) are the result of the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field.

However, aurora hunting is not the easiest hobby in the world. For beginners, the most reliable way is to go to the Arctic or Antarctic circles. That’s about 67° north or south. But there are many things to consider, depending on when you want to go and what you want to see.

Here’s everything you need to know about traveling to see the Northern Lights and the best places to see them — including why the Northern Lights are expected to peak this week:

1. Display of equinox aurora peaks

Equinox sees Earth’s axial sun tilt, which means the magnetic field of the solar wind is in sync with Earth’s. As a result, charged particles are more likely to be accelerated along their field lines, and voila, aurora!This Russell-McFron effect describes the aurora shown around the equinoxes in September and March twice as much as around the solstice in December and June.

The northern lights season is September to March, while the southern lights season is March to September, but only because there is enough darkness for aurora hunting.

More from ForbesIt’s Official: Scientists Say The Northern Lights Really “Speak”

2. You need a clear, moonless sky

Obviously, to see the Northern Lights clearly, you need a cloudless sky. It’s not necessarily the easiest thing to do this time of year, so consult a weather app.

It is also important to avoid full moons. While you can definitely see bright auroras around a full moon, they will be slightly more impactful in a moderately dark sky. Fortunately, there is almost no moon at night now. The best time to go aurora hunting is seven days before the new moon and three nights after.

3. Always be ready

So you decide to go to the Northern Lights area, you book an expensive hotel and wait indoors to start the Northern Lights display. Pay close attention to the windows. Locals (or even hotel staff) may tell you that the aurora will be around 11pm at the latest, which may convince you to give up and go to bed.

Such advice is rubbish.

Auroras can and do appear at any time of the night. Anyone who says anything else is just telling you their normal sleep patterns.

Smart aurora hunters set an alarm every hour throughout the night to get up to check if the sky is clear and if the aurora is dancing. You can sleep when you get home.

4. We are now in the ‘green zone’ of finding the aurora

The Sun has a solar cycle of about 11 years, during which its activity goes from solar minimum to maximum and back again. The current solar cycle begins with the last solar minimum in 2019, with a maximum expected in 2025.

Compared to a few years ago, solar activity has increased substantially and will continue to increase – and lead to more (and stronger) auroral displays – by 2026 or 2027. Now is the time to look for the aurora!

5. Aurora photos require a tripod

It’s now possible to take half-decent photos of the northern lights with a smartphone, and various “night modes” have proven to be quite effective at capturing the dancing green lights. However, you have to put your smartphone on some sort of tripod, no matter how small it is.

The same goes for DSLRs or mirrorless cameras, which are still the best way to capture the Northern Lights. The time you open the shutter should depend on the brightness of the aurora display, but it should be between 4 and 25 seconds. ISO 800 to 3200 does a pretty good job of keeping images bright and clean, as does a wide-angle lens used at its widest aperture (eg, f/2.8 to f/4). If you can, shoot in raw photos and use Photoshop to bring out the wonderful colors – but don’t oversaturate it and make it look fake!aurora Yes green but no That green.

6. Reach the Arctic Circle

Don’t be persuaded to give preference to good resorts or good hotels in countries located in the Aurora region but south of the Arctic Circle. Of course, particularly strong auroras will appear on the horseshoe, and the horseshoe will be pushed further south below the Arctic Circle. But if you’re aiming for the Arctic Circle, you can’t go wrong, and even a normal aurora display will put you front and center. Target latitudes 66-69°N in Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Lapland (northern Norway, northern Sweden and northern Finland), Greenland, northern Canada and Alaska.

7. Types of aurora

If you’re lucky enough to see the northern lights in the distance — usually in the north — it may appear as a slow-moving arc. If it’s a little closer to where your curtains are positioned, the ribbon-like straps may be rippling in front of you. If you see the pillar, it appears to be closer, and if it’s just above your head, expect to see an extremely bright “corona”. The latter, which appears to be beating and looks like an open mouth, is the ultimate prize – sure to send you back to the Arctic Circle for more.

May you have a clear sky and open your eyes.

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