During this week, I’m aurora hunting from the beautiful island country of Iceland. I’m joining a tour with Astronomy magazine’s travel partner, MWT Associates, Inc., as the lecturer. While here, I get to learn about Iceland’s impressive geology and rich culture while hoping the northern lights make nightly appearances.
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal pool of mineral-rich water in southwestern Iceland. // photo by Liz Kruesi
After snow in Wisconsin and New York City, we finally made it to the west coast of the island Tuesday morning — a couple hours delayed. Our first stop was the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa within the lava fields of Iceland’s Reykjanes Penninsula. The warm waters are mineral-rich (with silica and sulfur) and relaxing. How we didn’t all fall asleep after the long travel day is a mystery.
Managing to stay awake, we continued on to see Iceland’s largest church and sixth tallest architectural structure, Reykjavik’s Hallgrimskirkja. It houses a gorgeous organ with 5,275 pipes! They were tuning the instrument as we walked through the church.
The last sight-seeing stop of the day was Perlan, a hemispherical structure and museum at the top of a hill in Reykjavik. The observation deck gave wonderful views of the capital city and the Esja mountain range in the background. I also found out why MWT recommended windproof pants and coats — the wind is incredibly strong in Iceland (and bitterly cold when from the North).
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, stands in front of the mountain range Esja. // photo by Liz Kruesi
Tomorrow we visit more geological wonders of the country, and we begin a few-nights stay away from the glow of the capital city, with the hopes of active aurorae.