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Iceland Mag

Northern lights

Heads up: The Aurora forecast for Wednesday and Thursday looks very promising

By Staff

  • The Aurora over Reykjavík A friend of Iceland Magazine, Snorri Þór Tryggvason took this photo from a downtown rooftop a year ago. Photo/Snorri Þór Tryggvason

Finally, after weeks of cloudy skies and low Aurora activity the Icelandic Meteorological Office has issued its first really promising aurora forecast for several weeks: The IMO is predicting that tonight's aurora activity will be a 4, "active" tomorrow, Wednesday February 14, and the day after, Thursday February 15. The sky should also be clear over most of West and North Iceland tomorrow, and the sky over Reykjavík on Thursday looks like it will stay clear most of Thursday evening as well.

This is great news, because for several weeks now the Northern Lights activity has either been a low 0, 1 or 2 or the cloud cover has made it impossible to see the Aurora.

Look to the sky on Wednesday and Thursday!


Aurora forecast, 13.2.18
Aurora forecast Tomorrow evening is looking very promising! Photo/Icelandic Met Office

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. It's those spectacular displays which have failed to materialize since early November. Although it is possible to catch the Northern Lights when activity is only a 2, we usually need a 3 or more to get a really vibrant and colorful Aurora. 

Clear skies over most of  South West and South Iceland tonight, Friday and clear skies over all of Iceland, except parts of North Iceland on Saturday should then allow us to actually see and enjoy nature's most amazing show. 

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

According to IMO the sun sets at 18:02 (6:02 pm) tomorrow evening, and it will be dark from 18:53 until 08:29 (6:53 pm-8:29 am). The best time to see the Aurora is usually in the evening or around midnight. 

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. The key to catching the Northern Lighs is always pationece and luck. 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, 13.2.18
The cloud cover at eight on Wednesday evening, Clear skies over most of W and N Iceland. Photo/Icelandic Met Office

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. If you don't have a car or a booked Northern Lights tour the north shore scenic and sculutpure walk is a great alternative.

Or 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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