Join me in search of the northern lights in Norway this coming February (2012) aboard the Hurtigruten ship MS Midnatsol. Inspired partly by Joanna Lumley’s evocative BBC TV programme, more people than ever are travelling north to see what is widely regarded as one of the most spectacular phenomena in nature.
These luminous wisps and curtains of light tripping like phantoms across the polar skies are caused by atomic particles from the Sun bombarding the Earth’s upper atmosphere and making it glow. Aurorae occur around the poles because the Earth’s magnetic field funnels the solar particles down onto the atmosphere in the polar regions. Hence you need to travel north to see them at their best – and one of the prime places for aurora watching is the clear, dark skies of Norway.
I will be aboard the Midnatsol as it cruises the fjords from Bergen northwards to within skiing distance of the Russian border and back again for 11 days from February 22 to March 3 (see Northern Lights Astronomy Voyage 2012). If you are unable to make that date, Dr John Mason is accompanying two other trips, departing January 20 and March 15.
As well as observing sessions on deck I will be giving six lectures on various aspects of astronomy – not just aurorae but the Moon, planets, comets and of course the myths and legends of the constellations. And you will be able to participate in the day-to-day life aboard the Midnatsol, the biggest and newest of the fleet of Hurtigruten ships that acts not only as a tourist ship but also as a lifeline to the small towns along the coast of Norway.
I will be at the Telegraph Cruise Show at the NEC Birmingham on October 29–30 so come along to hear more!
* For more about what causes the aurorae and what you can expect to see, download the summary of my talk Fantastic Lights: