Luleå and the lights

The ultimate ‘must do’ on every wander-lusting travellers bucket –list, The Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis as they are scientifically known are one of nature’s most jaw-dropping spectacles, that’s if you know where to hunt them down.

Here’s the secret, this year it just so happens that in this corner of Sweden you’ve got the highest chance of sighting the Northern Lights as they illuminate the star-flecked sky. Not only that this winter season of 2012/2013 is one of the best years for seeing the lights. Pretty great eh? But, first a little bit of scientific background knowledge…

Just give me the light

These dancing ribbons of coloured light that illuminate the wintery night sky occur in a zone named the auroral zone located at the very top of the Northern Hemisphere. When solar particles created by powerful solar winds from the sun collide with gases in the earth’s atmosphere they create the spectacular ribbons of colored light that shimmy their way across the night sky. And what gives the aurora their famed spectrum of colour? Well that’s down to the chemical make-up of the atmosphere, oxygen = green lights, nitrogen = blue lights (you get the picture).

Lighting up Luleå

So now the question lies as where to find these incredible light displays? Luckily for us, it’s not as far as you think. Located 100 miles south of the Arctic Circle the town of Luleå and its surrounding forests and wilderness is a prime spot for viewing the Northern Lights during the winter months. When the skies are clear and the air is cold head out on a snowmobile into the nearby Brandö forest, or hop on a dog-sled and skim across the frozen Lake Skabram where amidst the eerie stillness of the night you can awe at nature’s most spectacular light show.