The Northern Lights is a magnificent phenomenon that has always been the object of fascination and wonder. Legend has it; the Northern Lights have been seen as everything from evil spirits to celestial wars with their marching armies. The appearance of red aurora in medieval times was feared as a sign of God's anger. The explanation given by modern science is no less extraordinary. A stream of charged particles called the solar wind is continuously emitted from the Sun and when these particles interact with the Earth's upper atmosphere light is emitted.
To learn more about the science of aurorae see our Northern Lights Guide.
Read about how to capture them on camera in Northern Lights Photography
One of the most wondrous features of the aurora borealis is its spectacular movement as it swirls rapidly over the whole sky. Curtains and haloes are other features to look out for whilst on our Northern lights tours. When witnessed in its full glory the aurora is a truly breathtaking and memorable spectacle.
Displays of aurora can never be guaranteed but the likelihood of seeing a good display can be maximized by viewing from locations in the high latitudes such as Iceland, Sweden and Alaska. The level of solar activity is another important factor as the strength of the solar wind is determined by the Sun's activity which runs on a cycle of approximately 11 years. The solar activity picked up strongly throughout 2011 and 2012 with active displays reported from high latitudes. The cycle is due to peak around 2013 so this winter the lights enter the most lively phase and the next couple of years should be a great time to see them.
Check out our Northern Lights tours on the right of this screen and watch our video taken in Iceland.