NASA indicates excellent viewing conditions for the Northern Lights will persist into the autumn

Published on 1 January 1970 by Raffick Marday

If seeing the spectacular Northern Lights has long been one of your top travel priorities, this autumn could be the time to tick it off the list.

travelAccording to researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), autumn 2013 could provide travellers hoping to marvel at the stunning natural phenomenon with the best viewing conditions in over a decade.

What’s more, experts predict that there are likely to be two further seasons of excellent viewing conditions.

The optimistic forecast stems from a revised NASA projection which indicated that rather than a single peak in solar activity, originally expected in May, there would be a later peak in the autumn.

Another solar maximum in the autumn could mean an extension of the current favourable conditions for observing the aurora borealis.

Dr John Mason, an astronomer and lecturer at the South Downs Planetarium and Science Centre in Chichester and a specialist lecturer on Northern Lights tours, said:

“If it turns out that there is another solar maximum this autumn then visitors will have longer to plan trips to catch these wonderful displays of colour and lights.”

He recommended that those wanting to catch a glimpse of the displays head above the Arctic Circle.

“There are great possibilities in Sweden, Norway and Finland. I saw some great displays last month and hope to catch more this month in Alaska,” he added.

What are the Northern Lights?

The world-famous Northern Lights occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and emit burning gases on impact. The effect is an incredible natural display of different coloured lights, referred to among scientists as the aurora borealis.

The phenomenon occurs in an oval doughnut-shaped area situated above the magnetic pole. The best sightings are within this “doughnut” and away from moonlight and artificial light. Sweden, Norway and Finland are recommended, along with more far-flung destinations such as Alaska, Canada and Russia.

Wherever you are planning to go on holiday this year, a good way to keep overall holiday costs to a minimum is by organising your travel money in advance in order to avoid the expensive rates at the airport.

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