September 12, 2018 | Aurora Zone
Autumn is a beautiful time to visit Lapland: the onset of darker nights, with starry skies overlooking forests resplendent with rich berries, whilst local wildlife begin their annual search for a winter home. Yet this is not the only reason to plan a trip to Lapland in autumn. Research provided to the UK’s original Northern Lights holiday company, The Aurora Zone, has backed up the company’s long-held belief that the autumn – and specifically the period around the equinox (20/21 September) – provides a very good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
Renowned scientists and Aurora experts, Professor Christopher T. Russell and Professor Emeritus Robert L. McPherron, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), explain that a combination of factors help create spectacular autumn Aurora displays.
The Aurora is produced by particle bombardment of the upper atmosphere, with energy generated from the Earth’s magnetic field and plasma from the Sun called solar wind. At this time of year, the magnetic field of the solar winds runs antiparallel to the Earth’s field, strengthening the solar storms, whilst the tilt of the Earth during the equinox drives the strongest solar winds towards the planet’s poles. These factors lead to more frequent and stronger Northern Lights displays.
The professors also explain that good weather around the equinox is fortuitous: “The weeks around the equinox are very often the best time for observing the Aurora. This is because it is becoming increasingly darker in the Auroral Zone and there is less cloud cover in the sky – both of which are essential for successful viewing. Furthermore, the orientation of the Earth’s axis is nearly perpendicular to the solar wind flow, greatly increasing the number of Northern Lights displays. To do better than this you need to become an astronaut and then you can see them in every orbit – something that might be possible in the future but unfortunately isn’t yet!”
Founder and Managing Director of The Aurora Zone, Ali McLean says: “Autumn has very often been overlooked in favour of the winter months but, in my experience, it is one of the very best times to go Northern Lights hunting. We have been travelling to the Arctic in search of the Northern Lights for over 16 years and our Aurora experts always had great success during this time of year. In fact, the most spectacular Auroral display I have ever seen occurred in Finnish Lapland during September. We are delighted that there is now evidence that backs up our claims that autumn is a fantastic time to hunt the Northern Lights.”
Through their ongoing research and conversations with Professors Russell and McPherron, The Aurora Zone has created a range of NEW trips that take full advantage of the autumn’s excellent Aurora-viewing potential:
NEW: Autumn Auroras and the Crystal Lavvos – Tromsø and Lyngen Alps, Norway, from £645 pp
This spectacular short break combines two compelling parts of Northern Norway: two nights are spent in the vibrant Arctic city of Tromsø, before moving onto the stunning Lyngen Alps for an unforgettable ‘glamping’ experience. Spend a night in a glass-roofed Crystal Lavvo (traditional tepee), situated in a forest thicket away from light pollution, ensuring prime Northern Lights spotting opportunities, all from the comfort of a cosy bed. This relaxed but active itinerary features a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) wildlife adventure, exploring the archipelago of islands around Tromsø – with the chance to see whales in the wild when migration brings them to the area – and a guided Aurora husky hike or visit to the husky centre and Aurora Camp, providing further opportunities to search for the autumn Lights.
This three-night trip is priced from £645 pp (two sharing), including transfers, three nights’ half-board accommodation (including a one-night Crystal Lavvo stay), activities and expert guides. Flights extra. Departures from 8 September to 30 November 2018.
For last-minute departures NEW: Autumn Auroras in Lapland – Torassieppi, Finland, from £1,055 pp
Staying at the lovingly-renovated Torassieppi Reindeer Farm on the edge of the Pallas Ylläs National Park in the north-west corner of Finnish Lapland, this itinerary has a focus on foodie elements, including the opportunity to cook campfire pancakes at an Aurora Camp on the edge of the lake whilst searching the skies for the magical Lights. Make the most of the dramatic changes of Ruska (a term used in Finland to describe the changing colour of the leaves during autumn), reflected in the forest and the growth of seasonal produce, with a forage for berries and mushrooms and even fishing in the lake, ready for cooking alongside an experienced chef over a campfire. Join a local guide on a leisurely four-hour reindeer hike, unique to Torassieppi, exploring the forest and gaining insight into the local herding culture. Additionally, upgrade to a night spent glamping in an Aurora Dome, allowing for a night of stargazing by the lakeside.
This three-night trip is priced from £1,055 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers, three nights’ full-board winter cottage accommodation, activities and expert guides. A stay in an Aurora Dome is priced from £134 per night. Departures until 24 September 2018.
NEW: Autumn in the Sámi Heartlands – Inari, Finland, from £1,105 pp
From the shores of Lake Inari, hunt the Aurora by boat or minibus and take a guided hike to an Aurora Camp, making the most of the peaceful surroundings for the best chance of witnessing the ethereal spectacle. In these heartlands of the Sámi people, learn about the fascinating Lappish culture and also meet the huskies. Finally, make the very most of the abundant season by exploring the beautiful autumnal forests on a guided nature hike: discover the carpet of colour that is the forest floor, find berries and wild mushrooms and look out for local wildlife preparing for winter hibernation.
This three-night trip is priced from £1,105 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers, three nights’ half-board accommodation, one lunch, activities and expert guides. Departures from 10 September to 21 November 2018.
NEW: Muotka Autumn Auroras – Kakslauttanen, Finland, from £1,395 pp
With a large focus on the Aurora Borealis – including three Northern Lights tours – this dedicated itinerary takes Muotka as its location, nestled in one of Lapland’s most picturesque areas in Northern Finland, close to Urho Kekkonen National Park and perfect for an autumn getaway. An Aurora presentation provides the perfect introduction to the local legends surrounding the natural spectacle before a visit to a specially-selected camp allows for an Aurora stakeout. Daylight activities include a visit to the Sámi Siida museum and an autumn nature walk through pine forests and over sweeping fields, before focus is again given, as night falls, to searching for the Northern Lights, this time travelling via vehicle to try to outrun any potential cloud cover.
Special offer: Enjoy a free upgrade to experience one night in an Aurora Cabin, quoting ‘FREE CABIN NIGHT’ when booking (valid for travel in September, October or November). Terms and conditions apply.
This four-night trip is priced from £1,395 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers, four nights’ full-board accommodation, activities and expert guides. Departures from 10 September to 15 November 2018.
NEW: Wilderness Auroras during the Finnish Autumn – Menesjärvi, Finland, from £1,495 pp
This short break takes the charming Hotel Korpikartano as its base, set in an idyllic location overlooking Lake Menesjärvi, the perfect setting for glimpsing the Northern Lights in uninterrupted dark skies, reflected in the still lake. An Aurora photography workshop offers ample preparation for capturing the Lights should they appear, before an Aurora hunt into the wilderness piques anticipation levels. Learn about the local culture with a visit to a reindeer farm (as featured in the BBC2’s Reindeer Family and Me with Gordon Buchanan), meet friendly huskies and visit the Sámi Siida museum for more insight into the local people and their lives. Enjoy a traditional lunch in a Lappish Kota (hut) and explore the autumnal forests, looking for animal tracks alongside an experienced guide and foraging for ingredients for the evening’s meal.
This four-night trip is priced from £1,495 pp (two sharing), including flights (London), transfers, four nights’ full-board accommodation, activities and expert guides. Departures from 19 September to 14 November 2018.
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Professor Christopher T. Russell is a member of both the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) and the Department of Earth and Space Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is the current acting system-wide Director of the IGPP and head of the Space Physics Center in the IGPP at UCLA, as well as being the Director of the UCLA branch of the California Space Grant Consortium. His areas of research include Space Physics and Planetary Science and he has a special interest in the Aurora Borealis. He is a co-author of ‘Semi-annual Variation of Geomagnetic Activity’ with Professor Robert L. McPherron.
Professor Emeritus Robert L. McPherron is a professor of Space Physics at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is part of the Department of Earth and Space Sciences, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) and is the head of the Space Weather Group. His area of research is Space Physics and he has interest in the Aurora having written multiple papers on subjects such as Magnetospheric Substorms, Magnetic Storms and Solar Winds. He is a co-author of ‘Semi-annual Variation of Geomagnetic Activity’ with Professor Christopher T. Russell.