Ruka Kuusamo, the premier winter holiday destination in Lapland, is the perfect place to watch the northern lights, one of the most amazing natural sights in the world.
What Are The Northern Lights?
The northern lights, or aurora Borealis, are natural a phenomenon; undulating stripes or shafts of light over the clear dark sky. They can be purple, red, green or yellow but primarily, in Ruka and this area of Lapland, they are green and yellow, an eerie and awe striking sight, as they dance across the dark sky.
What Causes Them?
They are caused by gas emissions from the sun that are pulled into the Earth’s gravity. There, they react with the Earth’s magnetic field, causing the unusual colours of light. Ordinarily the gas takes around 3 days to travel to us from the sun, making it possible for scientists and aurora gazers to predict the next sighting.
When Can You See Them?
In Ruka and Kuusamo, Lapland, you can see them frequently between October and March, with the best months being January and February. Unless they are particularly strong occurrences you will need to move away from areas of electric light which can mean simply turning your cabin light off and going outside or moving to a dark area away from street lights.
The Right Conditions
They can occur at any time of the day or night but in order to see them the conditions need to be right. The sky must be dark and clear, and, for some reason, they are seen more often when the temperature is very cold, -20C and colder. The official thoughts on the best time of day are between 11pm to 2am, however I often see them on my farm near Ruka in the early evening around 7 or 8pm.
Northern Lights Forecast
The best website I have found for forecasting the northern lights is the Geographical Institute of Alaska which will show you both long and short term forecasts as well as the expected strength and times of the aurora.
Northern Light Excursions in Ruka and Kuusamo
There are several excursion companies in Ruka and Kuusamo that run northern lights trips. Usually setting off around 6pm, these trips take you by snowmobile and sled, through the frozen forests to open areas or the tops of hills to witness the awe inspiring sight that is the Aurora Borealis. Undulating shafts of green light dancing through the star covered sky.
Of course, aurora gazing is just one of many things to do in Ruka and Kuusamo during the winter months which offer everything from skiing and snowboarding, to go-cart racing on ice and husky dog sledding.
Ruka and Kuusamo really is nature’s playground.