With the return of the warm weather in the Northern hemisphere, I thought I'd feature some "lighter" fare for our weekly focus on how what's "in the news" is shaping events. Some events take months or even years to organize. Others are accessible free of cost and courtesy of nature. All you have to do is be in the right place at the right time for celestial events that "light up the sky."
The Northern Lights have fascinated people since the dawn of time. If you want to add the wow factor to one of your events without increasing your event budget by a penny, select a destination for one of these celestial sightings for your spring or late winter corporate event or incentive trip.
Today, we'll look at the Northern and Southern Lights. (Stay tuned for a summer feature about the Midnight Sun.)
Auroras Are in the News Again
The Northern and Southern Lights are in the news this week.
- Top 10 Places to see the Northern Lights
- Northern Lights Flare up Again
- Northern Lights put on Rare Display in Cumbrian Sky
- Video of the Day: Australia's Southern Lights
The Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis a.k.a. the Northern Lights are created when gaseous particles collide with particles that have been charged and released from the the sun's atmosphere.
Nature's pyrotechnic displays spike roughly every 11 years and the next peak is 2013. For this reason, Sweden has made the Fodor's Go for it List.
Northern Norway above the Arctic Circle, where the viewing period spans from the autumn to the spring equinox, is the best place to view the Northern Lights. (Be sure to avoid dates when the full moon is scheduled to appear as visibility will be reduced.)
Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Sweden and the coastal waters north of Siberia are also excellent vantage points from which to view the Northern Lights.
If you don't have the budget to travel to Scandinavia, there are plenty of places closer to home where you can see the Northern lights. In the Western hemisphere, you can see them in the Yukon, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Alaska. There have been sightings as far south as far South as Michigan, Wisconsin, Colorado and Kansas. Last week, in a colorful and spectacular display, the Northern lights exploded over Minnesota.
The Aurora Forecast website can help you schedule your trip. Here are some places to stay to see the Northern Lights:
- Iceland - Hotel Ranga
- Norway - Lyngen Lodge
- Alaska - Alyeska Resort
- Alaska - Chena Hot Springs Resort
- Alaska - Bettles Lodge
- Yukon - Inn on the Lake
- Sault St. Marie, Ontario - Errington's Wilderness Island
Photo Credits: Visit Finland
The Southern Lights
The Aurora Australis, the southern counterpart to the Aurora Borealis, is the same phenomenon but viewed from the southern hemisphere. Think of it as a mirrored reflection of the Aurora Borealis. The best vantage points to view it are in New Zealand. It's only vivid in other locations every 11 years (e.g. Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the Falkland Islands, Patagonia and at high altitudes in South America). 2013 is the next ideal viewing period for the Aurora Australis.
Here are some places where groups who want to view the Southern Lights can stay:
- Antarctica - Snow Hotel
- Patagonia, Argentina - Los Cauquenes Resort and Spa
- New Zealand - Bluewater Resort
Photo Credit: vilebender via Flickr