Have you ever seen the aurora borealis, or northern lights? That’s a phenomenon that I’d love to see, but never have. My daughter is going to Finland soon and I hope she gets to see this amazing sight.

An aurora is a natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere. It can occur both in the Arctic and Antarctic and the farther north that you are, the higher in the sky the lights will appear.

This natural light show can look like glowing paths of light across the darkened sky, or rippling curtains of light, in shades of blue, green, and rosy red. Although it can sometimes be seen from the northern tier of states in the “lower 48”, northern Alaska and Canada are better bets for viewing.

There is something of a rivalry between Finland and Norway as to which country provides the best views of the aurora. Norway promotes its northern coast to tourists as ideal. Finland tells tourists that since the Norwegian coast is often foggy or overcast, Finland is the better bet. Both countries have special “northern lights” package tours.

Two websites that can tell you when and where to look for the lights are The University of Alaska Geophysical Institute and Aurora Hunter.

Posted by Nancy, who needs to get out more.