Northern Lights is one of the great surprises of polar darkness and, in Greenland, it is almost a part of our identity. To see the northern lights, come to Greenland between September and the beginning of April.
The undulating, mythical, and almost magical northern lights will marvel and amaze you, and Greenland is the right place for you to experience the phenomenon. You can easily go out into the middle of nature, where the mountains and the snow will be lit up by the green, white, and reddish hues of nature’s light show. Greenland has some of the world’s best northern lights.
In Greenland, there is very little artificial light compared to other places in the world, and here you often get a clear sky which creates the best conditions for seeing the northern lights. Northern lights are best seen on a dark, clear night sky from September until the beginning of April.
However, you do not have to travel to the northernmost and distant parts of Greenland to see the magical northern lights. At the Gateway to Greenland, Kangerlussuaq, you will most likely be welcomed by the “fluttering green curtains” on a cold winter evening. For a long weekend, you can travel to Kangerlussuaq and see the northern lights and experience all the other interesting sights in and around Kangerlussuaq.
The Greenlandic word for northern lights is “Arsarnerit” and means “those who play ball.” According to the old Inuit myths, the northern lights appear in the sky when the souls of the deceased play ball with walrus skulls. However, that explanation may not hold water today.
The scientific explanation of the northern lights is that electrically charged particles of the sun meet molecules and atoms in Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 100 kilometers altitude. This meeting results in an incredible phenomenon where you see “curtains” in all colors fluttering across the sky. Yellow, green, red, white – depending on where you are in Greenland, the curtains may have a different color, but no matter what, it is a wonderful sight.
Most people do not believe in the old skull myth anymore, but it does not keep us from whistling to the sky in an attempt to make the northern lights even more lively. This is another one of our myths, and it’s surprising how often it works. Just make sure that the northern lights do not reach down and grab you while you are whistling.
In other cultures, it is believed that children conceived under the northern lights will result in intelligent children, so therefore northern lights are something very special for visitors from these cultures.
It was the scientist Galileo Galilei who in 1619 invented the term “Aurora Borealis,” meaning something like the “Northern Morning Red.” There is also a similar phenomenon in the southern hemisphere called “Aurora Australis” or southern light. Strangely, the southern lights move simultaneously with the northern lights.
The band of light
Even for Greenlanders, it often comes as a surprise that the northern lights are not found throughout Greenland. The closest inhabited areas have northern lights, and for this reason, many of us take for granted that it is found all over the northern part of the globe, but it is not true. The further north you come, the weaker the northern lights will become to disappear completely finally.
Playing under the northern lights
There are several excursions where you can go out and experience the northern lights, and where you also get something nice to drink to keep you warm. There is also another way to stay warm when you are watching the northern lights: Playing. It is fun to play under the northern lights. Many look at the light with great reverence, and for a good reason, as it is an exceptionally beautiful natural phenomenon, but you should still try to imitate the playing of the light across the sky.
Lie on your back and make angels in the snow or take a bobsled ride or use a plastic bag. Not everyone wants to do this, but there is something wonderful in letting go and playing in nature. If you are five, 30 or 70 years old, try it!