After the media paranoia connected with NASA’s recent space junk dump, the agency has a kinder, gentler prediction for heavenly bodies this winter. The agency is predicting that a surge of solar flares will make the Northern Lights stronger and brighter than at any time in the past 50 years. For those of you who don’t know, the Northern Lights are an Aurora that occurs when photons and ions get mixed up in a magnetic soup in the earth’s outer atmosphere. The result is familiar to frequent flyers over the Atlantic. It’s an astral fireworks show where the sky turns colors and billows and moves like nature’s version of a curtain at a Las Vegas revue.
To get a ringside seat at this winter’s show, book a berth aboard one of Norway’s Hurtigruten Cruises (hurtigruten.us). The cruise line plies its way along Norway’s 1,250 mile west coast on six to 12 day voyages along the corridor where the Lights activity will be the strongest. Along with the sky show, the cruises for this year include onboard lectures and seminars about the phenomenon. Cruisers will also be able to channel their inner “Beowulf” and attend a Viking feast, dog sled and go on a “Deadliest Catch” type “King Crab Safari.”
For travelers who want to see the show from the sky, the UK-based tour operator Omega Holidays ( omega-holidays.com/) books small craft “Northern Lights Flights” from John Lennon Liverpool Airport and other UK airports. The flights are three hours long and have professional astronomers on board. And if happen to be flying to Iceland or if your transatlantic flight is crossing Arctic or Scandinavian air space, just look out your window. The show is at its peak between November 2011 to March 2012.
GRETCHEN KELLY writes about hotels, destinations and unique travel experience for the New York Post, Luxury Travel Advisor, Frommers.com, Executive Travel, Interior Design, The Travel Channel.com and many other publications and websites. She has been to over 80 countries in the past ten years. Her areas of expertise include travel and culture, art, design and film-related travel. She has been interviewed as a travel expert on the Fox Network, BBC TV and BBC radio, among others. You can reach her at Twitter @gretchenkelly or on her website, www.gretchenkelly.com.