The physics of Northern Lights
The Northern lights (AKA Aurora borealis) appear in the polar sky when two kinds of particles meet: particles from the sun with an electric charge and certain gas particles in the air. The gas particles are what determines the color of the lights. Oxygen particles, for example, will create green-yellow lights, and nitrogen will result in blue lights.
When to go
Assuming you’re not into wandering the frozen tundra, one of the best populated places to go see the Lights from is Norway. Generally speaking, you want to go in the winter (October to March), but to increase your probability of seeing the lights you want to focus on the darkest periods (there must be a life metaphor here somewhere).
Where to go
The most popular locations in Norway to see the aurora are Tromso and Hammerfest. The places are tourist-friendly and lean on the lights as part of their local economy. However, there might be better locations. Located in the arctic circle, other locations around Lapland offers a better probability of seeing the lights. Why? Because the northern location means you don’t need a high solar activity to happen in order for you to see the lights. You will find the clear night sky for Lights watching in the Lofoten Islands. Other locations in the region are Senja, Alta, and Svalbard, which are also the home of incredible landscapes.
For the sole purpose of seeing the lights, you don’t need more than your own two eyes. But in order to overcome the extreme cold coming your way, you’ll need some special gear. For starters, you’ll need thermal clothing to wear under *all* of your clothes. Next, you’ll need the best snow boots you can get — we’re talking insulated, waterproof, loose boots you can wear over multiple pairs of thick wool socks.
How to pick a tour
Locations that offer aurora tours usually have different types of tours to cater to different people. This way you can find photography tours, cruises, or even tours that involve dog-sledding! Take a look at the list to see if any of them speak to your interests.