Northern Lights Iceland;
Northern Lights Iceland luxury yacht trip from Reykjavik
Forecast 50% low cloud cover, 0% high cloud cover 2/9 KP index
We set out from Reykjavik Old Harbour aboard the luxury super yacht Amelia Rose in search of the magical aurora borealis. After some bad weather earlier in the month we were really excited to be back out on the water and the forecast was great. As we boarded the yacht at nine a short snow shower turned everything sparkling and beautiful, but our crew had prepared the boat well and inside her was warm and comfortable.
The snow passed quickly and we made our way out to sit to one of our favourite northern lights viewing locations, away from Reykjavik city centre so the light pollution wouldn‘t affect our viewing. Whilst some people chose to stay down in the cosy main saloon some chose to go up to the top viewing deck. It has 360 degree visibility and an unparalleled view of the islands and mountains that surround Faxafloi bay. The clear skies meant we had a great view of the stars and whilst we waited for the aurora to grace us with her presence we identified our favourite constellations and stars. The milky way was especially bright.
Suddenly a huge snow cloud blew in from the south west of Iceland and for another twenty minutes we are retreated into the warm cabin. By the time it had cleared the other boats had gone back into Reykjavik harbour, but we could see there was still a chance for the lights to show up so we stayed out later than we had planned, (having checked everyone was okay with that!) and hoped for the northern lights to appear.
When we decide to go hunting the aurora borealis we look at many things, not just the cloud cover and the kp index, but also the wind speed and direction and sea conditions for safety and comfort. Then we also look at information regarding our sun, the closet star in the sky and the reason we get Northern lights here, we are looking at density and speed of the solar winds then entire time we are on the ocean we are watching information straight from NASA. This gives us an edge, so we know whether to call it a night or to stay out and keep looking for the lights.
The sky opened up again, all the stars bright in the sky, but there was no sign of the lights so we started to sail back to the city centre. Then we heard the powerful engines slow and the captain called out that we had found the aurora borealis! Everyone quickly put on their cold weather gear and went onto the ship’s deck to see the mesmerising display.
It started as an arc, unusually starting from the south west, then come all the way across the sky to behind mount Esja. Then the northern lights started ribboning, dancing in the sky, a bright green colour. Everyone took great photos of them and whilst we were a little late returning to the city it was totally worth it to see such a wonderful display from mother nature. This never stops being an amazing sight, however many times we see the aurora it is always magical, and is definitely a must-do in Reykjavik, and on your holiday in Iceland.
We are so glad we took the extra time to show everyone this natural phenomenon that lights up Iceland’s skies and is one of the top reasons people this incredible country. Seeing people well up at the sight of it dancing in our skies, or gasp, like children in wonder at its colours and patterns gives us so much joy!
All in all it was a brilliant trip, and we met so many wonderful people. It was a pleasure to meet you! Enjoy the rest of your time here in Iceland and I hope you also come out with us whale watching, most commonly we find minke whales, humpback whales, harbour porpoises and white-beaked dolphins. However we never really know what we will find, if you booked Northern Lights with us you can get 50% off whale watching.
Sea Trips sail daily from Reykjavik Old harbour, Iceland. Our yacht Amelia Rose was built as a superyacht in 2003 in Mexico, and, as such, is extremely stable and comfortable. However different people are affected by ocean movement in different ways. We always have sea-sickness tablets for free at the bar, and we have warm blankets and ponchos 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.