5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland

During the long Icelandic winter nights, you can see in the sky the aurora borealis, a natural phenomenon that turns darkness into a spectacle of colors, and even if the Northern Lights are mostly green, you will be able to see red, violet or other colors.

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First, to see the aurora borealis, it must be a dark night, with a clear sky and the solar activity intense. There is no chance to see the aurora from May to August, then, because the Icelandic nights are not dark at this time of the year. December is a good "season" for a chance to observe them, as there are very few daylight hours that month.

To find out if the sky is clear (and where) you can check out the Icelandic weather report on the website: Northern Lights, the same site makes forecasts for the coming week, but we recommend you not to rely on the reports for more than a few hours before your trip: http: // en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/

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There are no rules for the Northern Lights. They can occur anywhere, at any time, and last a few minutes or hours. There is no secret when observing the aurora borealis, but your chance in the countryside increases because it is darker there. I happened to see a strong green solar flare just above Tjörnin in the centre of Reykjavík. It is possible to see them over the city lights, but nothing beats the sight of the Northern Lights over a farm in the middle of nowhere. Jökulsárlón has become a very popular destination for photographers and aurora hunters who hope to take the perfect shot of the aurora and its reflection on the river ice and iceberg below.

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Know that your photos of the aurora will surely look brighter than with the naked eye because a camera can capture more efficiently the light streaming from a solar flare. Do not forget your tripod if you want to photograph the northern lights because the exposure time should be several seconds.

You can choose to rent a car and go independently on a northern lights hunt at night, or book a tourist agency that can organize excursions for a few hours at a low cost, or for longer stays, especially for photographers. Both, Independence or guided tours have their advantages and disadvantages, but tourism professionals know the best places and offer tips to see the Northern Lights successfully. And if you did not get to see them on your trip, almost all companies offer you to join the second trip for free the next day.

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5 Things to do before you die: Northern Lights in Iceland