8 reasons to view aurorae in Norway with Astronomy magazine

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Wednesday, August 20, 2014

In association with TravelQuest International, Astronomy magazine is taking a group of up to 40 people to view the magnificent northern lights October 5–15, 2015. Here are eight reasons you should come along.

The famous globe monument at the North Cape site marks the northernmost position of Europe, at about latitute 71° north — from here, going northward means going to the North Pole. // All photos: David J. Eicher
1. Location is everything

The continental United States rarely experiences truly great aurorae. Norway often does. From such a location, the motion of the northern lights is more apparent, the duration is greater, and the colors are brighter and more varied.

2. You’re in the hands of a top-notch tour company

TravelQuest International has been arranging specialized tours — many of them astronomy-themed — for more than two decades.

3. Odds are, you’ll see aurorae

This trip lasts 11 days/10 nights. In October, off the coast of Norway, typically half those nights will be clear. That’s not a guarantee, of course. But the odds are in our favor.

The towering structure of Nidaros Cathedral lies at the heart of Trondheim, once the capitol of Norway.
4. October 12, 2015, is New Moon

We picked the dates of this trip to coincide with the dark of the Moon. The only non-starlight we want to see is aurorae.

5. The sky is really dark above the ocean

You’ll want to bring binoculars along because at certain times on certain nights (some scheduled, some impromptu) members of our group will be observing celestial wonders that lie far beyond the aurorae: star clusters in the Milky Way, remnants of long-dead suns, and the great Andromeda Galaxy.

6. Solar activity is waning

The peak of the current 11-year solar cycle occurred in the spring of 2013. Currently, the Sun’s activity is on the decline. If you want to see great aurorae, 2015 will still be a good year, but don’t wait too long after that. The best estimates say the next solar cycle won’t peak until 2022.

7. The sky’s just the beginning

The days you spend on this tour also will be great. You’ll encounter the Sami culture and many of Norway’s spectacular scenic wonders. Bring an extra chip for your camera!

Astronomy Editor Dave Eicher attempts to avoid being eaten by a polar bear in Tromso's oldest tavern.
8. Your celestial guide will be one of the editors of Astronomy

’Nuff said! Learn more about the trip and sign up to join us at www.astronomy.com/norway.

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