Skip to content

Or try searching by Category and/or Location

How to spot the Northern Lights?

The northern lights are most visible on clear nights and away from the light pollution of populated areas.

Northern lights are formed when electronically charged particles from the sun collide with atoms and particles within the earth's atmosphere. The light's colors are determined by the height at which the particles come into contact. At approximately 90 to 200 km altitude, the particles contact oxygen atoms, causing the most common green and yellow-green colors. Red, blue, and purple lights occur through the stimulation of nitrogen.

The Northern Lights are unpredictable

The lights are most visible on clear nights and away from the light pollution of populated areas. Before going out, it's best to check out the Northern lights forecast, as the weather changes quickly.

One of the websites that are used for the forecast is the Icelandic Met Office. The map shows cloud coverage. Look for the white spots, which mean clear skies, while the green represents cloudy. Aurora's activity is listed in the top right of their website. This is the activity at midnight on a scale of 0 to 9—the scale changes by the date selected under the cloud cover map.

You can find the site here -

Remember that the activity shown days ahead can change, and it is always best to look at the forecast on the day you wish to look for them.

The Northern lights in Iceland are visible as early as August, as soon as the night skies get dark enough and weather conditions are favorable. It helps if it is cool and crisp outside, and a small moon helps make them easier to spot.

Optimal Conditions for Northern Lights in Iceland

  • From September to April
  • Darkness
  • Clear Skies
  • Still Weather
  • Lack of Light Pollution
  • Correct Solar Wind Activity

The light's beauty can be magical and are an imperative sight for anyone visiting Iceland during winter. Several agencies offer northern light tours conducted in areas of more propensity for the experience.

You can find a list of them here -