Photo: SpitsbergenTravel/HanneFeyling

The Northern Lights

The magical northern lights - a unique display of light, ever changing, ever fascinating. Named for the Greek goddess of dawn, Aurora, the northern lights have long been a source for myth and legend, and today attract many visitors to the Polar regions.

Myth & Legend

The northern lights have long been the subject of myth, legend and superstition. Some believed the lights to be a sign of coming plague or war, while others connected them to the spirits of the dead. In some areas people were warned against waving white garments at the lights for fear of attracting their anger, while others believed the lights would wink back!

How the Northern Lights are created

Daytime Northern Lights

Svalbard is one of the few places in the world where you can see the northern lights during daytime because of the dark polar night. The lights stand out in color during daytime and are more red than than the nighttime Northern Lights. Svalbard is placed directly under the aurora oval during daytime:

Phenomenon & colours

Today we recognise that the auroras are caused by the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun and the gasses in the Earth's atmosphere. This occurs in the Polar regions due to the planet's magnetic field. The different colours are connected to the type of gas the particles meet, and range from green to red to blue.

Svalbard is one of the best places to see the northern lights. Read more here in Travel + Leisure.

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