– why darkness isn’t just darkness in the Arctic
Northern lights (Latin: Aurora Borealis) is an extraordinary green, blue, and sometimes even purple light that appear in the night sky in the Arctic. Sometimes it’s vague, other times it’s putting up a strong performance all over the sky. If you are lucky enough to see that, it’s the kind of nature experience that humbles you. And you never know when the next show is going to be…
Remember to look up when Lady Aurora dances over the sky! Photo: Marthe Nyvoll
The good news is that Hammerfest is located right underneath the northern lights’ oval, meaning that the possibilities to see the incredible Aurora Borealis are good in our region! The lights depend on solar storms, so you can’t tell when until a few days ahead (check the Northern lights forecast here). The season is from early September until late April in our region.
The polar night
Darkness is a requirement to see the northern lights. From late November and until late January the sun disappears completely, and we are left with a light dawn for a couple of hours, followed by darkness for the rest of the day (approximately 20 out of 24 hours). This period is called “the polar night”.
Did you know that in the most populated parts of Europe, it’s not dark enough to really see the night sky? Light pollution has blocked the view of the stars, and half of Europe can no longer see the Milkyway (as seen in the film above). In the Hammerfest region on the other hand, it is easy to escape the light pollution and embrace all the lights in the dark. And during daytime, you can experience incredible lights without any sun, such as “the blue hour”. The last hour of daylight often appear as a deep blue light that is coloring both the sky and the snowy white surroundings.
“The blue hour” over Hammerfest. Photo: Ziggy
This picture is from December, in the darkest part of the “Polar night”. Why is it not called the Polar light period, we wonder? The sun is gone, but she still provides us with bright colors for a couple of hours. Photo: Marthe Nyvoll
But can you hear it?
There are many myths about the northern lights, and in the Sami language it has many names. One of them is "Guovssahas", which means ”the lights that you can hear”. The indegious people of the north have claimed that the lights make a crackling sound when it puts on a strong performance. Scientists can confirm that the electromagnetic waves make sounds, but according to them it is impossible to hear with your own ears . They claim you need a special type of radio tuner to hear the sound of the Aurora. We suggest you listen closely when visiting Hammerfest!
Experience Northern lights and learn more about it!
The lights can be seen in the whole Hammerfest region (Hammerfest, Skaidi, Sørøya, Seiland, Kokelv, Havøysund, Rolvsøya and Ingøya). In the city of Hammerfest, the viewpoint at Mt. Salen is a popular spot to watch the lights dancing over Hammerfest city center.
Spotting the northern lights from the viewpoint at Mount Salen. Photo: Marthe Nyvoll
But if you want to get completely away from light pollution (to see the lights even stronger), learn more about the phenomena, hear the old local myths, and last but not least – take great photos – we highly recommend that you book a northern lights tour with proffesional guides. The guides will help you with the camara settings in order to really capture the moment. The newest smart phones are great alteratives for northern lights shots, if you use the right settings.