Have you ever wanted to hunt the northern lights? This weekend offers an opportunity to follow four aurora hunters all around the world.
We are entering one of the prime times for viewing the northern lights. The northern skies are darkening fast yet the winter weather has not yet struck, keeping the skies relatively clear. Yet with global travel restrictions still in place, this northern lights season seems set to be one for the locals.
However, with international tourism off the table for many this year, a new online project aims to replicate the experience. This weekend, four aurora hunters will seek out the tricky lady in polar regions around the world. You can follow along online.
A virtual tour for a global audience
People travel from all over the world to see the northern lights. Many people living in Norway find that strange, but I've seen it for myself.
A few years ago I joined a tour in Tromsø and I was the only Norway-based member. One young couple had travelled from as far as China to celebrate their engagement under the lights. Thankfully for them, we saw a great display!
Just recently I interviewed the Philippine Ambassador to Norway. She told me that the aurora is one of the biggest reasons behind an increased interest in tourism from the Philippines to Scandinavia.
Follow along with four experienced guides
This weekend, four experienced aurora hunters will take to Instagram. Anyone in the world can follow along on their expeditions into northern Norway, Finland and Sweden.
Organized by This Is Arctic and Visit Arctic Europe II, the four aurora hunters—Harri Tarvainen in Oulu, Steffen Fossbakk in Senja, Magnus Winbjork in Gallivare, and Per Lundström in Luleå—will document their progress using the Instagram platform. Expect live broadcasts along with stories and regular posts.
Follow This is Arctic on Instagram, which will follow the most successful hunters. The fun begins tonight! That's Friday, 11 September, 2020.
Not just about the lights
Of course, the thrilling and frustrating thing about seeking the lights is that there is never a guarantee! Will they appear, or won't they? It's these great unknown that makes a lights chase so exciting.
Modern prediction apps based on solar weather forecasts have made things easier, but they still can't ever guarantee a sighting. However, don't fret! The chase is about so much more than the lights themselves.
As you follow the guides in search for clear skies and the dancing ribbons of green, there's so much more to see. As you'll see from the photos on this page, the spectacular scenery plays a special role. Lit by moonlight, the landscapes of northern Scandinavia are a memorable experience.
But of course, seeing the northern lights is the goal. Finland's Harri Tarvainen said he can't think of anything more magical:
“I’ve seen her dance when there shouldn’t have been any activity and I’ve seen only pitch-black skies when I thought it was 100% active. Northern lights are something you cannot control. That’s why seeing them feels like a gift from above!”
When can you experience a northern lights hunt for yourself?
Watching a hunter's experience on Instagram is no replacement for the real thing. Running this website, I've heard from many people who are bitterly disappointed that their planned visits this autumn are now not possible.
While we cannot know when the global health crisis will pass, we do know the best time to see the northern lights. Once this season passes, the next window opens in February and March, 2021. After that, you'll need to wait until late September for the best opportunities. Here's my best advice for planning a trip to see the northern lights.
Will you be following along this weekend?