Green northern lights above a wintery forest.

Northern Lights – Aurora Borealis

Posted By : Anniina/ 94 0

To understand what causes the Northern Lights is quite a new thing to us people. With science we have a pretty good idea on it now.  At the 18th century the first serious scientific attempts were made to explain the phenomena and the 1950s we really understand how the Aurora formed. It is all about the sun and solar wind.

Solar wind travels 92 million miles until reaching Earth’s magnetic field. When solar particles hit the magnetic field, they’re deflected around Earth. Near the poles the solar wind follows the magnetic flux lines deeper towards the poles.

When solar wind is getting closer to Earth near the poles it hits our atmosphere and starts to react with atmospheric gases, like oxygen and nitrogen. The interaction makes the particles energized, and as they become energized they emit photos, or light.

The most common color we see is green. The reason for that is, that the human eye registers green easier than reds or blues. Another reason is, that solar particles commonly react with oxygen.

In Finland we believe that the Norther Lights are caused by fox. The Finnish word for the Northern Lights is revontulet.  This word means “fox fire”.  The story behind this is that the revered fox would run through the snow, he’d sweep his tail back and forth and the sparks created by this would rise into the sky.

The Sámi people in Lapland also had other explanations for the Northern Lights. One is that the Auroras were plumes from a whale’s blowhole. One common belief around The World was, that the Auroras were physical manifestations of the souls of the dead.

 

Where and when can you see Northern Lights

 

The best chances to see Auroras is in the northernmost part of Finland for example in Kilpisjärvi, Ylläs, Levi and Saariselkä. Best chances for Auroras are at Kilpisjärvi (75 % of nights), then e.g. Ylläs, Levi, Saariselkä (50 % of nights) and more you go to south the lower is probability to see Auroras.

The typical time for auroral displays is at midnight, but auroras may occur randomly anytime when it´s dark and the sky is clear enough for seeing them. Aurora hunters should stay alert at least between 21:00 and 02:00. Sometimes Northern Lights can appear and disappear within minutes or those can last hours on the Sky. The thing is, you never know!

Summer nights are too light for auroras, those are not visible in sunlight. In late August, nights grow darker, and the aurora season lasts until spring. Considering the weather, the best time for seeing auroras in Northern Finland is in September, October, March and early April.

 

Northern Lights watching tips

 

  • Find a dark, open place far away from town lights. Hilltops and lakes are good places.
  • Auroras usually are seen on the northern sky, try to find an unrestricted view toward the northern sky.
  • Optimal weather is dark and cloudless night. If the night sky is clear and starry, chances of seeing the Northern Lights are good.
  • The weather can change fast and vary locally. Thick clouds will prevent you from seeing auroras.
  • Keep your legs warm, as nothing ruins a trip like cold feet. Take a pair that are slightly loose and add extra woolen socks. Winter boots can be bigger than your normal shoes! Also protect your fingers, head and body against the cold.
  • Take a headlamp with you for moving safely in the dark.
  • Remember to move also. It will get your blood flowing and keep you warm.
  • Take a hot coffee, tea, hot chocolate or warm juice in a thermal flask, sandwiches, nuts and chocolate for snacks.
  • Hunting auroras is more fun with your friend. 😀

 

-Anniina

Sources:

Ilmatieteen laitos.fi

Visit Finland.com

Lapland.fi

GoFinland.fi

A man relaxing in a jacuzzi watching the northern lights.

Winter activities

Posted By : Anniina/ 33 0

Finland is an amazing destination to visit in winter, especially Lapland! The snow season in Lapland starts in November and lasts until May, so we have a lot of activities to fill all the snowy time. In Lapland is so much to see and do. You can go downhill or cross-country skiing, go on a husky safari, snowmobile safari, ice-fishing, sauna, and icy dip in a lake or go on a snowshoeing, reindeer ride or try how a kicksled works.

 

Winter activities

 

The best skiing season in Lapland starts in February and lasts until May. Levi is the most popular ski resort in Finland. Levi is close to Kittilä airport, just a few minutes drive away. Other Lapland’s ski centers are essentially holiday resorts, with many more activities on offer besides skiing and snowboarding. Cross-country skiing is very popular also during the wintertime. Around Ylläs area there are over 300 kilometers of skiing tracks.

If skiing or snowboarding is not for you, then maybe you should try snowshoeing. This involves strapping oversized “shoes” onto your feet and then wandering the snowy landscape. With snowshoes on you can walk over the snow without sinking in deep snow. Snowshoes are recommended for winter hiking as they cause less damage on trails than walking in normal boots.

Kicksledding is a unique model of transportation. It is primarily done in Scandinavia. Kicksledding is quite straightforward. You’ll need a kicksled and ice or hard-packed snow, then you stand at the back of the sled on the runners, and kick to provide forward motion. Easy and fun!

Ice fishing is like a meditation to Finns. To catch a fish in wintertime you need to be patient, it can take several hours to get your first fish. In Finland, you don’t need a license to go ice fishing. Perch and pike are two of the common types of fish in the lakes in Finland.

Ice swimming in a hole in the icy lake or sea really does you the world of good. This is no longer all about toughening you up, a ritual or being macho, but simply an incomparable energy boost and good for your health. This has traditionally been an older people thing, but recent generations have made swimming in icy water rather trendier.

Usually, you go sauna before ice swimming. Sauna is the most traditional thing you can do in Finland. For Finns sauna is a place to meet friends, visit with family, meditate, and even hold business meetings. Most Finns have their own private saunas in their homes or cottages. Finns generally go to saunas in the nude, but if you feel uncomfortable being naked, you can wear a swimsuit or towel.

If you want to see reindeer, there are lots of opportunities in Finland.  You can visit a reindeer farm, wildlife park, or do a reindeer safari with reindeer pulling a traditional sled. This is an easy-going ride, if the reindeer wants to eat in the middle of the safari they just stop and eat and then they continue.

Husky or snowmobile tours are operated a lot in Lapland. Basically, where ever you go from Rovaniemi to Kilpisjärvi, there are plenty of tour operators who do these safaris or you can rent a snowmobile and go on by yourself.

 

How to dress for cold

 

  • Underwear: thermal underwear (breathable material), socks, underwear pants and shirt.
  • Mid-layer: loose, fleece, wool. High-neck shirt and loose trousers. Woolen socks.
  • Top layer: warm, windproof jacket and pants. Choose one size bigger shoes than normally (tight boots are cold!). Gloves should be loose mittens with linings and a warm hat or beanie.
  • Slightly too big clothes are warmer in cold than too tight clothes.
  • Too many layers aren´t good eighter, because it is not good if you are sweating in cold.

 

-Anniina

 

Sources:

Visit Finland.com

Destination Lapland.fi

Independenttravelcats.com