In September of 2012 we will be making the most of what NASA has assured us will be the ‘zenith’ of the Northern Lights and travelling to Canada’s Northern extremities. After arriving into Yellowknife, we will be staying at the stunning Blachford Lake Lodge – not only granting us ideal conditions to observe the Aurora Borealis, but also allowing us to experience first hand the incredible landscapes and winter activities for which the area is famed.
Unlike the majority of Northern Light hotspots, Yellowknife sits right in the centre of the Aurora belt. This means that both the intensity and the frequency of the displays are as good (or better) than anywhere else in the world. Combined with the predictable and steady continental weather patterns, and it’s easy to see why Yellowknife and the surrounding area is considered by many to be the absolute best place in the world in terms of the chance to not only see the Aurora Borealis, but the also highest chance of seeing an impressive display.
What are the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights, the sky’s own light show, have always been the object of great wonder to mankind. 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 Northern Lights are caused by charged gas particles that flow away from the Sun as a “solar wind” and interact with the Earth’s magnetic field. The charged particles “excite” gases in our atmosphere and make make them glow, just like gas in a fluorescent tube. The colours depend on the type of gas, a red or green glow is oxygen and the blue and purple colours are produced by nitrogen. The solar wind reacts with the earth’s magnetic field in a doughnut shaped area around the North Pole (the auroral oval) and you need to be within sight of this area to see the lights.
The appearance of the aurora is closely connected to activity on the sun. This activity usually changes over a cycle of around eleven years and after a quiet period of several years (a solar minimum) the sun has now become active again. This activity is expected to increase for the next two to three years, before again declining.
Also known as the Aurora Borealis, which means ‘dawn of the north’, the Aurora can appear abruptly, filling the sky at incredible speed with great arcs, as ghostly wisps in green, yellow, red and violet dance above the horizon, before disappearing again.
The Inuit of Greenland believed the lights came from the realm of the dead, caused by the spirits trying to contact their living relatives, and Norwegian sailors believe the displays were the souls of young maiden’s waving and dancing in the night’s sky. The Danes believed the Northern Lights to be swans that had strayed too far north and got stuck in the ice. As they struggled to break free, each stroke of their wings was reflected in the sky, forming the Northern Lights. Whatever explanation to this natural phenomenon, everyone who has seen the Northern Lights have been caught in awe by this magical display, a celestial show which truly needs to be seen to be believed.
Flight exclusive price for the Yellowknife Northern Lights holiday is £2195