1. Northern Lights

 Aurora Borealis over Norway  © Andy Keenwww.aurorahunters.com

Viewing the Northern Lights from a cruise ship © Hurtigruten

The wow factor: The Aurora Borealis is spectacular a display of brilliant lights generally seen in polar regions. Solar wind and magnetosphere particles colliding with atoms in the upper atmosphere produce “curtains” or swirling clouds of greens, blues and reds which appear to dance in the sky. They are at their most pronounced during solar maximums which happen on roughly 11-year cycles, when sunspots, solar flares and solar storms occur more frequently. According to NASA, the current solar cycle, the 24th since 1755, will peak in early or mid 2013.

Did you know? The Northern Lights are usually best seen in winter but can occur at any time of year. The most spectacular auroras in recorded history occurred on August 28 and September 2, 1859, the latter producing such intense light that it was reportedly possible to read by the light at 1am in Boston, Massachusetts.

Experience: Specialised Tours offers a three-night break to Tromso, Norward, with activities including Northern Lights trips and snowmobile and husky safaris, from £895. The Aurora Zone has a new range of Autumn Lights aurora adventures in Finland from September-November. Quark Expeditions has an Arctic Northern Lights cruise up the East Greenland coast from September 16-29, while Hurtigruten’s Norwegian coast cruises, including the Arctic Highlights Voyage between Tromso and Kirkenes from November-March, also offer aurora spotting. Relax in an open-air hot tub watching the Northern Lights with Inntravel or in comfort from your own heated glass igloo with Taber Holidays, both in Finnish Lapland. Iceland’s luxurious Hotel Ranga also offers aurora viewing from outdoor hot tubs. www.specialisedtours.com, www.theaurorazone.com, www.quarkexpeditions.com, www.hurtigruten.co.uk, www.inntravel.co.uk, www.taberhols.co.uk, www.ghotw.com/hotel-ranga

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