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Iceland Mag

Northern lights

Heads up: The Aurora forecast is looking very promising for the rest of the week

By Staff

  • The Northern Lights Capital Local photographer Snorri Þór Tryggvason captured this great shot of the Aurora over downtown Reykjavík last winter. Photo/Snorri Þór Tryggvason

One of the great things about winter in Iceland is the Aurora. Unfortunately Aurora activity and overcast skies, thanks to the first winter storm of the season have made life hard for Aurora hunters, at least here in Reykjavík. Which is why we at Iceland Magazine are excited to read the latest Aurora forecast from the Icelandic Meteorological Office. 

Look to the sky for the rest of the week!

Aurora forecast, 8.11.17
Aurora forecast Tonight is looking very promising! Photo/Icelandic Met Office

Of course we can never be certain when it comes to the Northern Lights, and that it's impossible to predict them with any certainty! That said: Tonight (Wednesday) and the rest of the week are looking very good!

The Icelandic Meteorological Office is reporting an Aurora activity of 5, "high" tonight, Wednesday, and an activity of 4, "active" tomorrow, Thursday. Friday's activity is currently expected to be a 3, "moderate", but on Saturday the IMO expects the activity level to jump back up to 5.

The IMO explains that an activity of 2, "low" can be beautiful and an activity of 3 "moderate" can be dazzling. Level 4 and above can generate spectacular display.

But for a great Aurora show you need two things: An active Aurora and clear skies. Which makes us particularly excited: The cloud forecast for the next several days promises mostly clear skies over South, South West and West Iceland during the evening. 

Read more: Learn all about the Aurora on this new interactive website

According to IMO the sun sets at 16:48 (4:48 pm) today, and it will be dark from 17:44-08:41 (5:44 pm-8:41 am). Meanwhile the cloud cover is expected to start clearing up over the capital around 22:00. By 23:00 we should have a pretty good chance of seeing the Aurora, once it comes on.

But remember:  We can never count on the weather forecast in Iceland, and you should always check back with the IMO to see the updated forecast.

Where to go?
If the skies are clear and the Aurora is active you can see the Northern Lights pretty much anywhere in Iceland, even in downtown Reykjavík. The best Aurora spots inside the city tend to be along the coast, where you have a broad horizon without streetlights or other sources of bright light. Taking a stroll along the north shore scenic and sculpture walk is a great way to enjoy the Aurora in downtown Reykjavík.

However, the light pollution means that the Northern Lights will be more vibrant outside the city. But you don't need to go up into the mountains to escape the light pollution. There are plenty of spots in the city or on its outskirts which offer great spots for Northern Lights viewing.   

Aurora forecast, 8.11.17
The cloud cover tonight Clear skies over most of Iceland. Photo/Icelandic Met Office

Read more: Aurora hunters cause traffic jam at Grótta lighthouse in Reykjavík

One of these is the picturesque Grótta island on the western tip of the Reykjavík peninsula. However, be advised that this is also probably the most popular spot in Reykjavík, both among locals and foreign visitors. You might want to check out one of these other great spots a local Aurora photographer and friend of Iceland Magazine Snorri Þór Tryggvason has identified - note that Snorri leaves Grótta out of the map!

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