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What are the Northern Lights Anyway?
Northern Lights season is here! But what are these fantastical lights anyway? Most people know that the Northern Lights are a rainbow-hued light display visible high in the night sky. Humans have been pondering this fabulous sight for thousands of years and created many theories about the lights’ origin story. Only in this modern age do we know the real reason that shimmering waves of green and purple come out to dance during Iceland’s winter months.
The real cause of the Northern Lights has to do with the Sun. Which is certainly surprising, since the aurora is only visible after sunset. When charged solar particles interact with the Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field, light is generated. To be specific, these solar particles are colliding with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules. This unique collision is why the Northern Lights appear.
The Northern Lights at Hotel Rangá
Hotel Rangá is considered one of the top locations in south Iceland to spot the mystical aurora. Our four-star hotel is located far away from any major towns which means little to no light pollution. What’s more, our unique aurora wake-up service ensures that you’ll get a call anytime the Northern Lights appear. We even have a special 4-night Age of Aurora offer that will increase your chances of spotting the aurora.
Our luxury property ensures your comfort while you watch the Northern Lights dance across the skies. We have snowsuits and blankets to keep you warm while watching the lights. Furthermore, our bar is open 24/7 if you feel like a midnight hot chocolate or hot toddy. Or maybe you want to soak in our geothermal hot tubs, champagne in hand, as you watch the aurora swirl around the night sky.
The Best Time to See the Northern Lights
Northern Lights season starts in late August but really gets going in September. The Northern Lights are potentially visible all winter, and the final sightings happen in early April. It is impossible to predict exactly when the aurora will appear. However, there are some things we can look for to get a better idea about whether the Northern Lights will light up the night sky.
First, we need a dark night sky. During the summer months, Iceland is home to the midnight sun. Unfortunately, we cannot see the Northern Lights from mid April to late August. Second, we need a completely clear sky with no clouds whatsoever. Third, we need solar activity. Check out sites like auroraforecast.is to see the predicted cloud cover and solar activity levels for the next 72 hours.
How to Photograph the Aurora
If the Northern Lights are active, you should be able to take a photo of the phenomenon. In fact, cameras can even pick up the lights even when they cannot be spotted with your naked eye. Check out our special blog post and checklist to help both serious and amateur photographers get the best shot possible.
DSLR cameras are a must for epic photographs, but phone technology has improved so much that you can get some good pictures with just a smartphone. Contact the Hotel Rangá reception to find out more about the Northern Lights and their activity level. We have several tripods which you can borrow to get the perfect shot.
How to Prepare for an Aurora Sighting
The Northern Lights are potentially visible as soon as the sun sets. That means that they could appear at any time of the night. That’s why it is important to be prepared. Make sure your clothes and camera are close at hand in case our aurora wake-up call comes in the middle of the night.
When you’re looking at the Northern Lights, you don’t want any distractions. Dress warmly and wear a hat and gloves. Charge your phone and DSLR camera the night before. Then, get ready for a truly awe-inspiring experience. Look up and marvel at the bands of green and purple swirling in the dark night sky.