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First Time Seeing the Aurora

“I’d love to see the northern lights. I have never seen them.”

Hearing someone saying that triggers something in me. I want to do everything I can to help them fulfill that wish.

Two girls standing on the ice watching the northern lights for the first time
The dream came true. Our guest got to see a spectacular show.

Last week my daughter’s school had a group of students from Germany visiting. We hosted one of the girls, Thalia, and she happened to be very interested in seeing the northern lights now when she had the chance. She surely ended up in the right hosting family!

I got up one night at 1:30 PM and kept my eye on the cloud situation (it got better and better) and the northern lights indexes (they got better and better) when the fog suddenly decided to ruin our chances. To make sure it was foggy everywhere I jumped in my car and drove both to the west and the east but it was foggy everywhere and I had to accept that our guest would not see any auroras that night.

Man standing in fog pointing torch light up in the sky
The fog was way too thick to reveal any green activity in the sky.

However, a couple of days later it looked much better. Clear weather and increased northern lights activity was predicted to coincide that night. And they did.

I took a bunch of Geman and Finnish teenagers to the coastline where we would have darkness and a good view to the north. It was +2 degrees Celsius (35°F) and the wind was very strong. But we saw a some auroral activity and the group was dedicated enough to wait for more action.

Northern lights over a frozen sea surface
Minor northern lights activity at arrival.

We took group photos with the green lights in the background and the German youngsters seemed satisfied with the event. At least they could now say they had seen the northern lights..

When I asked them afterwards what they thought about it they said things like: ”This was sooo cool.” Seeing the northern lights for the first time will not be like seeing most of the aurora photos that a Google search will show you. It will most likely be more moderate or even tiny and faint. But it’s still a cool natural phenomenon to see.

Two youngsters watching the northern lights
Two young aurora watchers.

Young aurora watchers waiting for the northern lights
The young aurora watchers and their guide.

The next evening was the German group’s last before they left Finland. Our guest wanted to spend it with us and, if possible, see more of the northern lights. Yes, of course I wanted her to see more!

We, Thalia, my daughter Laura and myself, headed out on the ice this time at around 10 PM. Despite warm weather during the last week the ice in the inner archipelago was thick (at least 20–30 centimeters or 8–11 inches) and felt like walking on a concrete floor. We sat on the ice and watched the stars and the auroral activity which was constantly rising.

Girls lying on the ice with the northern lights in background
The girls on the ice.

Two girls lying on the ice watching the sky
Lying on your back on the ice and just watching the sky is an amazing experience. Even without the northern lights.

And then it suddenly got a lot stronger and started bending, moving and evolving the way auroras do when activity is peaking. It was a fantastic sight even to me and my daughter, let alone to Thalia who was new to this phenomenon.

Northern lights Aurora borealis
The sign of a more active phase: stronger lights, bending lines and vertical details.

Two girls on the ice watching the aurora borealis in Finland
The girls standing and watching the increasing activity in awe. It's fascinating to see the whole process from the moment it appears to the peak of intensity and then fading away.

We enjoyed the show until it started losing its strength. Thinking it was over we walked back but just as we reached the beach the northern lights had another active phase. I asked Thalia if she wanted to stay and she said: “Yes, let’s stay a little longer.”

More photos were taken and, now when I look at them, they communiate a beautiful goodbye to our lovely guest. She really got the best possible ending to her week up here in the north.

She even said: “This was the best day of my life.”

I guess that experience on the ice helped a lot.

Two friends standing in a winter landscape looking at the Aurora Borealis
The second active phase came about 30 minutes after the first. Now this is the way to end your visit to Finland, don't you think!


I may be a blogger who wants to tell people how it is. But others have put it so well into words. I came across this blog that includes a list o reasons why you may not see the northern lights although you have travelled to a place where they can be seen. I think this list might be useful to anyone who is about to see it for the first time. Please check it out here:


Are you fascinated by the northern lights?

Put them on your wall and you can enjoy the beauty of them every day in your home.

See more photos in the Nordland Aurora webshop.

Northern lights prints web shop


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