Seeing the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

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Trip Index:

Introduction
Getting there in Austrian Business Class
Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
Exploring the Picturesque Lofoten Islands
A Night in a Traditional Rorbuer
Radisson Blu Polar Hotel (only 800 miles from the North Pole!)
Longyearbyen – the World’s Northernmost City
Crossing the Isfjord in a Boat
Barentsburg Mining Town
Face to Face with Esmark Glacier

Once we touched down at Brussels airport in Belgium there were just two flights to go. It was a cool day but there was no weather so no delays in or out of the airport.

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Belgium

There wasn’t a lot of time before my next flight so I went straight to the gate for boarding the flight to Oslo, Norway on Brussels Airlines. Here’s a refresher on my day’s flights, and I was already halfway to my destination in northern Norway.

Flights for the day

Flights for the day

I might incur some wrath for saying this, but I truly liked having overhead bins that were specifically reserved for folks traveling in business class. Sometimes I prefer to spend more time in the lounge and board near the end, and am disappointed when people put their bags in the first bin available so there aren’t many options left by the end of boarding. Some flight attendants will set aside a bin for those traveling in first/business but that is a nicety that cannot be relied on. With designated bins there is no need to rush onboard to stash bags. Of course, this seems to be less of an issue in Europe in general as more people either travel light for day trips or check their bags.

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Business Class Only

The aircraft was an Avro RJ-100, so I had plenty of legroom in the front row even if the seat itself wasn’t any different than one in coach.

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Avro RJ-100

The meals were good and I enjoyed the chocolate truffles for dessert.

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Beef meal

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Pasta meal

After the Brussels flight I transferred in Oslo to my last flight of the day – on SAS to Evenes, Norway. I was a bit tired as I took my aisle seat, with my husband in the window seat and no one in the middle. I gazed out the window absentmindedly when my husband tapped me on the shoulder with a smile and motioned out the window. I leaned forward to look out. Was it? Could it be?

YES! It was the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis! The Aurora Borealis is the energy of relaxed electrons displayed as light after transferring their energy to the Earth’s upper atmosphere, and it had been on my list of things to experience for ages. I wanted to stand up in the aisle and shout, “HEY LOOK! THE NORTHERN LIGHTS!!!” like a loon but I realized sheepishly that everyone on the plane had probably seen them before.

Being Norwegian, my husband had seen it thousands of times but every time I’d been in the correct areas the weather conditions just hadn’t been right. He admitted that the lights were especially bright this time, which I was glad for.

I excitedly traded seats with my husband and ignored my usual rule of not touching the window as I smashed my forehead and nose against the window. The lights danced across the sky in a wide and seemingly endless curtain to the heavens.

I grabbed my iPhone and took a photo hastily, wanting to capture the awesome sight.

Northern Lights via iPhone

Northern Lights via iPhone

Oh no! A blank black screen stared back at me. I tried again, and again to no avail. I stood up and got my point and shoot camera from my bag in the overhead bin, and tried again.

Still nothing. I tried covering the camera with my hands since the lights hadn’t been dimmed in the cabin though it was a night flight. I thought about how stunning it would be to view them with darkness all around, but the cabin stayed brightly lit.

No matter. I was entranced, and managed to get a couple of quasi-colored photos that looked more like a four-year-old photographing play-doh than passable Aurora Borealis photos but that was ok.

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Aurora Borealis as viewed from the plane window

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Bright green

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Another try

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The Northern Lights!

I felt a bit silly but I sat mesmerized, watching for what felt like hours as the curtain of light undulated and shifted through the night sky. The emerald greens blended seamlessly with bright lime and chartreuse, and shades of shamrock and moss seemed to extend out beyond my view.

After we landed the lights were still visible, and it was possible to drive to a location where they could be seen from a different perspective. On the ground the almost-solid curtain of light was dispersed and seemed huge, and I was glad I had gotten to see it from both sky and land.

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Have you seen the Aurora Borealis before? If so, am I the only one to have been so captivated by them?

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  1. iv
    Reply

    I saw them in Church Hill Manitoba, Canada. I also saw polar bears too. Truly amazing!

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @iv I’m glad you thought they were amazing too. How wonderful and fortunate that you saw polar bears. That one is still on my list!

  2. scott
    Reply

    It has always been a dream of mine to go to Alaska and see the Northern Lights. There is a place in either Alaska or Canada that you can stay in an igloo type camp ground(would love it) If anyone knows where it is plz post it. Definitely on my bucket list. Thx for the pics

    • Melinda
      Reply

      @scott I hope you get to Alaska and see the Northern Lights someday. Doing a quick search I found a tented campground in Denali National Park – http://www.alaska.org/detail/igloo-creek-campground. Not sure if that is the one you were looking for but if not maybe another reader knows. Thanks for reading!

  3. Chister
    Reply

    Popular places in northern America are either Fairbanks AK or Yellowknife Canada, both are under the Aurora oval. Don’t think either place has igloo type of accommodation, at least not to a large scale. Yellowknife does have an Aurora village with teepees.

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