Postcards from Alta: Will I See the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights has become quite a popular winter attraction all over the north, here.  People visit us from all around the world (even folks from faraway lands like “southern Norway”) hoping to see the dancing, swirling show.

It’s a natural phenomenon, as everyone knows, and everyone also understands that natural things can be unpredictable. But that doesn’t stop us from really NEEDING it to appear anyway. And when we really want something unpredictable to be guaranteed, we sometimes use a lot of extra energy on planning and guessing even if it doesn’t help much.

Northern Lights tour at Pæskatun - photo Trond Strifeldt
Photo Trond Strifeldt

It’s not bad to plan, but at the same time you need to not lose focus on what will give you the best chance to have a good time while you are on holiday. That, more than anything, is the important part (at least from my point of view).

So to help with that, Jon has made another “Postcards” video that talks about the hunt for the Northern Lights. Along with his usual, puzzling sense of humor, he covers some of the things that help you increase your chances of an aurora sighting, as well as some advice on how to actually have fun at the same time.  Take a look!

Also, if you haven’t seen the first two “Postcards From Alta” videos, make some popcorn and keep watching:

Postcards From Alta: Let’s Take the Bus

Postcards From Alta: Driving in Norway

 

Discovering Norway’s Arctic Secrets

Everybody that comes to the Norwegian arctic makes their own memories, their own story.  Sometimes, the stories of discovering the arctic are long and complex, like, “I moved here several years ago” or “I came to study at the university and never left”.

Other times, the stories begin, “I was there for a weekend,” “I spent my honeymoon there”, or “I finally got a chance to see the northern lights.” And while those stories are shorter, they can be just as powerful as the ones that involve a major change in location.

You never know when you’ll stumble over a moment that makes you realize you are somewhere special. For some people, it’s the view from a mountaintop or over the vast and empty wilderness plain, or an unexpected swoop of the northern lights overhead in the sky. Or maybe something smaller, like suddenly realizing as you gaze into a wood fire along a forest bicycle trail, that you can’t remember the last time you felt so peaceful, so connected to the land around you.

Jon Brown, a composer from the USA, took a tour up to this area last winter to listen to new sounds and get new ideas and perspectives. The video of his time discovering Tromsø, Alta and points in between shows that he did more than just collect sounds.

Take a look at the video and watch his experiences!  For us, it’s about seeing familiar faces and places. For you… maybe you’ll want to come do some discovering of your own.

Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition

The aurora borealis – the northern lights – is a very popular topic in the area.  After all, Alta is “The City of the Northern Lights”, so it’s no surprise that people would be coming here for a chance to see it in the winter. We get lots of questions every year from people hoping to maximize their chances of seeing the fascinating natural phenomenon.

Aurora Borealis near Alta, photo altafoto.noWe are done with nighttime now – the sky last night at midnight was still a glowing twilight – and seeing the aurora is a thing of memory until next September.  It might seem a little late to be writing about the northern lights, but the planning for next year’s holiday never stops and we’re already fielding inquiries for next year.

So here is a little story, written out in FAQ form, compiled from conversations that I have now and then with travelers.  Hope you get a chuckle.

Q: Hi there!  We want to come to Alta because we really want to see the northern lights!

Great!

Q: Right!  So, what time of year is best?

Well… the problem is that the aurora strength has nothing to do with time of year, and the weather is totally unpredictable. So really, your chances are equal as long as it’s dark enough. Anytime between the end of September and the beginning of April is just fine.

Q: But this will be a very expensive trip, so we really need to maximize our chances.  Just give me an idea of what time of year is best? Continue reading “Aurora Hunting, Crash-and-Burn Edition”

Hey, where’s the color!?

If you want to see the Northern Lights, Alta is a great place to go.  For one thing, there’s dry land to stand on (try standing in the middle of the Arctic Ocean and see how important that suddenly becomes). Our climate is stable, dry and not so cloudy as other areas.  And of course, only Alta has US here in town to keep our fingers crossed for the visitors, and I’m pretty sure that helps a lot, too.

(Ed: Jon has a sense of humor that is occasionally dry – please keep that in mind) Continue reading “Hey, where’s the color!?”