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Northern Lights & the Midnight Sun

If you visit Lapland and Norrbotten (the remote northeastern province of Sweden) in the winter, you will see the Aurora Borealis, a sparkling display of colors in the sky that becomes visible at dusk.

The northern lights, as it is called, are shimmering lights with surging colors in the sky, a natural phenomenon that can amaze the observer just as much as the most lavish fireworks display. They often can be seen during the dark season, from early in the evening until midnight. The northern lights occur in the Arctic region and are seen more clearly and more frequently the farther north you travel.

The source of energy for the northern lights is the sun and solar winds. Solar wind plasma is constantly emitted by the sun at a velocity of 400km (249 miles) per second. Some of the energy absorbed by the Earth's magnetic field accelerates the ions and electrons. The electrons are steered toward the polar regions, and, at a few hundred kilometers from the Earth, the electrons collide with atmospheric atoms and molecules. On collision, a small amount of the electrons' kinetic energy is transformed into visible light.

You will also experience the midnight sun above the Arctic Circle. By midnight sun, we mean that it is possible to see more than half of the sun even in the middle of the night when it is directly north. At midsummer, it can be seen south of the Arctic Circle, thanks to the refraction of light in the atmosphere. From a high hill with a good view to the north, the midnight sun can still be seen quite far to the south. The farther north you go, the longer this phenomenon lasts: In the far north, it's from the end of May to the end of July.

The light at night is milder and softer than the harsh, blinding sunshine of the day and creates an impression that time is somehow standing still. Many activities and events are connected with the midnight sun, including trips to the mountains, bike races, and nighttime fishing contests. Local tourist offices will have more information about these events.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.