Northern Lights Norway

How to see the Northern Lights

One of my goals during my semester in Norway was to see the Northern Lights. And with northern lights it is probably the same as it is with love: It happens when you least expect it.

As the name implies you have to be in the North to have the best chances to see the northern lights. Then you need two more things:

  1. A high aurora level (which you can check on an aurora forecast online). The higher the level the further south you have a chance to see northern lights (this is only a very simple way of explaining the matter).
  2. More importantly: You need a clear sky. When the sky is covered in clouds, you cannot see anything no matter how high the aurora level is.

So in Bergen the chances to see northern lights are still quite little. Because a) Bergen is comparatively far in the South and b) most of the time it’s cloudy. Nevertheless, I was still hoping. Every now and then I peeked out of my window and stared at the night sky. Most of the times unsuccessful.

The first time I saw the Aurora Borealis

One night, however, there were lights in the night sky. At first I wasn’t sure if it was only city lights. But when I saw movement in the lights, I was sure that I had just seen Northern Lights for the first time. I was so happy I wanted and it felt somehow magical, even though they were very weak and I could barely see them. Still, it was the first time and thus it was special.

The second time we all saw the Northern Lights was also in Bergen. There had been sightings the previous nights and it was also expected to happen that night. So many students from my student housing came outside to a nearby park. The lawn was still wet from rain and our feet quickly became wet and cold. Nevertheless, we were standing in little groups in the cold, facing north and waiting for the appearance of the Northern Lights. Suddenly, there were sounds of “ohs” and “aws” and cheering. The Northern Lights had appeared as expected. The moment was only ruined by many students who tried to capture the moment on their smartphones. With the camera flash turned on. Don’t do that. It doesn’t do any good.

Northern Lights in Tromso

Northern Lights in Tromso

Northern Lights in Tromso

The last time saw the Northern Lights was in Tromso, which is in the far North of Norway. We were very lucky, because we were only staying a few nights in Tromso and the weather forecast had predicted a cloudy sky. The first night, however, there were now clouds or what so ever and we had a brilliant view of the Northern Lights. They were quite strong and dancing in the night sky. Only by that, the trip had already been worth it.

Was it worth it?

I am so happy that I got the chance to see the Northern Lights. It was something that I had always dreamed of and I would immediately return to Norway to get another chance to see them. I have to say though that they look a lot different in real life than on photos. Not as green and not as bright (at least they didn’t the times when I saw them). Some people might be disappointed but I wasn’t. I still think it was magical and I wouldn’t want to miss it. And of course I would love to see them again!

(also: sorry for the poor quality of the photos. It was the first time I took photos of the Northern lights, so I didn’t quite know how to do it. Additionally, I had not the best-fitted tripod for my camera)

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