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Seven Natural Wonders of the World: Aurora Borealis

12 January 2021 11:42

Take a front row tent at Earth's greatest light show

Take a front row tent at Earth's greatest light show

Head north at the right time of year and you are in for a light show like no other. But what's so special about the Aurora Borealis? And how can you can see the Northern Lights for yourself?

Aurora Borealis at a glance:

  • Occurs roughly 60 miles above the surface of the earth - commercial planes typically fly at up to 7 miles high
  • The Northern Lights can be observed as far south as Scotland under the right conditions
  • The earliest known record of the Aurora Borealis dates back to 567 BC.

What makes the Aurora Borealis a natural wonder?

Aurora Borealis has left admirers in awe for thousands of years. The lightshow is created by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. While this happens all across the globe, the earth's magnetic field is weakest in the polar regions and the phenomenon is most visible in the Artic and Antarctic.

Aurora Borealis in film and TV

The Aurora Borealis plays an important role in 2007's The Golden Compass. The film, starring Daniel Craig, is based on the popular children's novel Northern Lights, and features the natural wonder as a portal to an alternate universe. Philip Pullman's stories build on ancient traditions which viewed the lightshow as a kind of omen or message about the future. However, the author doesn't share the same idea as tribes on Nunivak Island near Alaska, who once believed the lights were the spirits of walruses playing with the skulls of unfortunate humans.

How can tourists enjoy the Aurora Borealis?

You can enjoy the Aurora Borealis from Iceland, Greenland and other North European countries, but it's Canada that offers the best opportunity to see the natural light display. Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories capital, boasts more viewing nights than any other location and makes the unofficial claim to be the 'aurora capital of the world'. Here, visitors can settle for the night in a tepee in an Aboriginal-owned village under the stars. Or enjoy a more luxurious experience at the nearby Blachford Lake, lined with eco-lodges complete with hot tubs.

What else is there to see and do in Canada?

Although Canada is home to 80-90% of all accessible land under the Aurora Oval there's plenty to see and do away from the natural wonder. 'The Rockies' are an adrenaline-junkie's dream and littered with opportunities to enjoy white water rafting, snowboarding and other high octane pursuits. Then there are the cities. Toronto delivers all the excitement you'd expect from a North American metropolis and it's situated just a two-hour drive away from Niagara Falls.

Head for the North Pole with your policy sorted

At World First we provide worldwide travel insurance, so you can enjoy the lightshow with total peace of mind.