Northern Lights Iceland;
Northern Lights Iceland luxury yacht trip from Reykjavik
Forecast 60% low cloud cover, 50% high cloud cover 4/9 KP index
Despite there being more cloud cover than we ideally would like it was due to clear and everything else seemed perfect for a night out searching for the aurora borealis on the yacht Amelia Rose. A calm sea, lots of solar activity, not too windy. So with that we set off from Reykjavik city centre – at the old harbour with a promise of some of that cloud thinning and then clearing throughout the trip.
Our crew made sure everyone was nice and warm inside, with blankets and ponchos to snuggle up with and plenty of hot drinks whilst we set out past the islands Akurey and Engey to one of our favourite places to view the northern lights. As we looked back at Reykjavik we could see fireworks going off all over the city, it being the last day of christmas here, Þrettádinn, the thirteenth day. Whilst the crew educated the customers about Icelandic christmas traditions the captain kept a trained eye on the skies and the solar activity forecasts for the aurora.
The sea was perfectly calm, and we could only faintly hear the waves breaking on the island shores in the distance. Whilst we waited for the skies to clear and the northern lights to show up we got to know our passengers and talked more about the culture and history of Iceland, especially involving the sea and the islands around us. The whole time the captain was watching the information being collected by NASA, monitoring solar flares, solar wind speed and depth. It was frustrating to know that behind the bank of cloud above us must have been an incredible dancing aurora, no doubt in many colours. The northern lights were showing off but we just couldn’t see them.
Eventually the cloud thinned enough for us to see a bold green stripe across the skies even through them. It was more than an arc, and no doubt the thicker parts of cloud were hiding a full corona aurora display. Despite us finding the lights in the end they weren‘t the best display so we decided to give people a free return ticket, valid for three years, to give them another chance to see the incredible northern lights in all their glory.
We headed back into Reykjavik harbour having had a lovely evening out on the water despite the lights not being as bright as we hoped, we were just unlucky with the clouds. As with so many natural wonders of the world it is out of our hands, and we are delighted when we can show them to people. We hope anyone who joined us for this trip enjoyed themselves and we hope to have you back onboard the luxury yacht Amelia Rose at some point soon, be it for the northern lights or to see the wonderful wildlife here.
If you come out with us whale watching you get 50% off your ticket if you’ve already been to see the northern lights with us. The most common whales we see are minke whales, humpback whales, white-beaked dolphins and porpoises, although we never really know what we will find and that makes it even more exciting!
Sea Trips sail daily from Reykjavik Old harbour, Iceland. Our yacht Amelia Rose was built as a super yacht in 2003 and as such she is extremely stable, however if you feel you need them we always have motion sickness tablets for free at the bar, just ask our friendly crew. We recommend you dress warmly as it is always colder at sea than on land however we also have ponchos and blankets available around the boat for your use.
Please call us if you have any questions about the facilities on board our ships.
What are the Northern Lights?
Sten Odenwald, author of The 23rd Cycle: learning to live with a stormy star (New York, Columbia University Press, c2001), explains it thus;
“The origin of the aurora begins on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. Scientists call this a coronal mass ejection (CME). If one of these reaches earth, taking about 2 to 3 days, it collides with the Earth’s magnetic field. This field is invisible, and if you could see its shape, it would make Earth look like a comet with a long magnetic ‘tail’ stretching a million miles behind Earth in the opposite direction of the sun.
When a coronal mass ejection collides with the magnetic field, it causes complex changes to happen to the magnetic tail region. These changes generate currents of charged particles, which then flow along lines of magnetic force into the Polar Regions. These particles are boosted in energy in Earth’s upper atmosphere, and when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, they produce dazzling auroral light.“
If you are interested in learning more we recommend these websites, https://www.spaceweatherlive.com/ and http://www.aurora-service.eu/ They have a lot of extra learning materials as well as real time satellite information.