The northern lights are a spectacular natural phenomenon that attracts many tourists and is actually considered one of the main reasons why travelers visit Iceland during winter time. The northern lights are an attraction like no other but they are also a bit unpredictable and cannot be taken for granted. The chance of seeing the northern lights depends on several factors including weather conditions, solar activity, time of the year, and length of your stay, location and simply luck!
The northern lights are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere/exosphere), where their energy is lost. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying color and complexity. The form of the aurora, occurring within bands around both Polar Regions, is also dependent on the amount of acceleration imparted to the precipitating particles.
The best time to see the northern lights is usually from October until March when there are full dark nights which obviously is necessary for the northern lights to be visible. While there are no guarantees that you will see the Northern lights, one could be treated to an amazing light show through the entire season. December, January & February tend to be the peak times to see the northern lights, due to the dark nights during these months. It should however be noted that during those months the weather can be quite unpredictable so don’t get your hopes too high. It also should be emphasized that the length of your stay is arguably the most important factor, simply because statistically, the longer you stay, the more likely you are of seeing the northern lights.
Weather you see the northern lights or not the good news is that Iceland is full of other wonderful attractions which will surely impress you and make your journey worth the while.
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