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Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Bury St Edmunds
Level Contributor
31 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Hello All,

Looking at heading to Iceland in the new year and was wondering when, where, how and all the rest you go about giving yourself the best chance of viewing the northern lights? I'm quite sure this question gets asked a lot so apologies in advance, however this is an absolute life ambition of mine!

Cambridge, United...
Level Contributor
644 posts
13 reviews
12 helpful votes
1. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Number one - Clear sky, if it's not then you're not going to see anything.

Number two - Darkness away from any city lights.

Number three - No moon will give you a better view

Best time is when the sun has flung a massive CME towards earth, you normally will have 2-3 days notice of that but really you have an ok chance of seeing something if you follow the above steps.

Personally i am heading there during the new moon in late Feb specifically to go northern lights hunting.

I previously went with RE.IS , this is a trip on a coach of about 50 people, it's cheap and will give you a good chance of seeing something as they keep in contact with the other coaches to try and head to the best spot where something is happening.

Or you can opt for the much more expensive way by booking a tour by Jeep,

this is a much more personal experience but you need to be flash with the cash for that.

Third option is to hire a car,

that way you can go when you want and have fun trying to find them yourself but you have to be careful as the weather can turn very nasty and if you don't have experience driving in snow and ice it could be a nasty experience.

Whatever you decide to do i'm sure you'll have the time of your life.

If you do happen to go towards the end of feb yourself, i will be hiring a car myself and will have 3 spaces in the car if anyone wanted to jump in as i'll be going out every night to look.

Florida
Level Contributor
480 posts
65 reviews
37 helpful votes
2. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

While most of seeing the lights is a lot of luck as modjo30 mentioned, you are maximizing your chances, 2011-2013 is what is regarded as the solar maximum. You should also plan to stay as long as you can, once again to maximize your chances, as modjo30 mentioned, clear sky, new moon, and the sun sending something our way. Iceland sometimes, weather-wise, does not cooperate in late autumn, winter, etc so plan, if you can to stay for more than a week. You should not plan a trip around seeing the lights, treat it as a bonus, else you might leave very disappointed. At least that is our thinking for early October 2012.

Bury St Edmunds
Level Contributor
31 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
3. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Thanks for the advice...I am trying not to plan the trip around the northern lights as I realise there is just as much chance of not seeing them, but it is hard! So end of February time seems good due to the phase of the moon, just the weather to rely on next!

New Delhi, India
Level Contributor
142 posts
171 reviews
210 helpful votes
4. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

I am there in the second half of march and am hoping that the weather wont be so bad and driving should be relatively easier than now.

What do you say ?

Will I need all the extra wheel gear, glass scratch insurance and similar stuff with the car hire ?

Icelander in...
Destination Expert
for Iceland
Level Contributor
11,919 posts
26 reviews
22 helpful votes
5. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

I can assure you, that the gravej roads are just as much ,,gravel" and the stone chipping is just as bad in March as any other month.

I I was traveling half the world, and spending huge money, I would not try to save few bucks by skipping the rental car insurances.

Cambridge, United...
1 post
6. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Hi

i have just read your review on your upcoming visit to Iceland.

My daughter and myself are looking at going late February and seeking advice on the best time to go.

As you have been there before can you give us some advice on what to do and where to stay, any advice would be much appreciated

Brooklyn, New York
Level Contributor
27 posts
7. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Hi folks, I've read a number of these "northern lights" threads asking for recommendations on the best opportunities but I don't think I've seen location specific advice, which leads me to ask - are the northern lights a local event, or can they be seen from anywhere in Iceland? For example, assuming no clouds, new moon, away from the city, good solar activity, etc...are my chances of seeing the northern lights the same no matter where in Iceland I am? Or are some locations better than others?

Florida
Level Contributor
480 posts
65 reviews
37 helpful votes
8. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

According to www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/Interpreting (Pick Europe if not selected) Even as little as a kp =1 on a clear , dark night, the aurora should be visible on the horizon. Kp = 2+, most of Iceland is covered meaning the aurora, once again on a clear, dark night, should be visible overhead.

Isle of Man, United...
2 posts
9. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Appreciate all th info posted very helpful. I am planning a suprise trip for treat for my partner. we have to go early march due to work. I have been looking at both iceland and norway(tromso). cant decide which will be best. Understand the chance element and we may not get to see the lights at all. If anyone as been to both I would appreciate a view. Or is later in the year more ideal. My Knowledge and understanding of this solar activity and moon is limited. Any suggestions?

Bury St Edmunds
Level Contributor
31 posts
4 reviews
3 helpful votes
10. Re: Northern Lights - 2012, best time?

Now possibly looking at October 2012...not sure when would be best, or cheaper for that matter!