Can You See the Northern Lights in the Summer?
Getting a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis (or ‘Northern Lights’) is a staple on the bucket lists of many people worldwide. Fortunately, this phenomenon is not seasonal, and you can view the Northern Lights at any time of year! Whether you choose to try and view the lights from Iceland, Scandinavia, Canada or Alaska, it can certainly happen at any time.
The appearance of the Northern Lights in the night sky depends on solar activity. When the sun releases charged particles, they interact with other elements in the Earth’s atmosphere which in turn produces visible photons (seen as colored lights). The different colors are meaningful – red lights indicate the presence of nitrogen, while green lights mean that oxygen particles are involved.
Since the Northern Lights depend on solar activity and nothing else, you can view them on a summer’s night. While there might be fewer hours of darkness on a summer’s night, the chances of the Northern Lights appearing during these hours are just the same as a winter night.
Tips for viewing the Northern Lights (in the summer and year-round!)
- Remember that the Northern Lights are not a constant event. Sometimes, weeks can pass without sightings! If you are intent on seeing the lights, be sure to check regularly throughout the night. Some hotels in Iceland even offer wake up calls if an Aurora sighting has been recorded.
- Look north! It might sound like common sense, but be sure to gaze northwards in the sky to have the best chance of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. The lights often originate from the northernmost point in the sky.
- Important! Note that many places in the Aurora Zone (between 65 and 72 degrees north) experience 24 hours of daylight from April to August. So, if you do want to view the Northern Lights in summer, your best chance is to go in late August or early September. Viewing the Northern Lights doesn’t have to be something that’s endured in freezing temperatures at the height of winter!
– Written by Jack Vale in partnership with wrought iron door manufacturer, Abby Iron Doors.