April 10, 2007

Northern Lights

As mentioned in a previous post, our Planetarium used to be a Northern Lights Planetarium, where tourists and locals could view the Aurora Borealis year around. Although it closed down in the late nineties, people still contact us and ask for the northern lights show. And at summer time, tourists come here with the same agenda. Unfortunately we have no show to offer them anymore. So we tell them to return in winter time to see the show for real. Because of our location at 69 degrees North, we have midnight sun two months each summer and the bright sky prevent us from seing the northern lights for approximately 4-5 months each year. Lots of tourist (mainly from Japan) do visit Tromsø midwinter to experience the northern lights dance across the sky. With a clear sky, the chance of seing the Aurora is quite good, and by checking the Northern Lights Forecast you can be prepared on what conditions to expect.

The first "waterproof" explanation of northern lights was suggested by Kristian Birkeland, a space scientist back in the ninetenth century. Because of his lifelong achievement he is displayed on our 200 Kroner note, as well as his Terella, on which he created the first artificial northern lights.

A friend of mine, Robert Burke, visited Tromsø in January and got some good photos of the northern lights display. He followed the instructions of Jan Curtis at Nature Photographers Online Magazine to optimize his camera settings.

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