My friend and I would like to see the Northern Lights for our 30th birthday. Any suggestions for the best time and place, perhaps the new moon in late March in Finland or Norway? G. Matta, Carlton North
The new moon falls on March 27 and that's pushing it. You've much more chance of catching Aurora Borealis in its showtime glory around the preceding new moon, which happens on February 26. On that date Alta in northern Norway gets nine hours and 17 minutes of daylight. A month later that same figure is 13 hours 22 minutes. As for location, Alta is my No. 1 pick, the largest town in Norway's northernmost county. It's reasonably accessible, flights are not too expensive and you can fly in from Stockholm or Oslo. Alta is on the coast which normally means more chance of cloud; however, in this case, it's protected from weather by the surrounding mountains. An even better choice is Karasjok, also in Norway, and much further inland, which means clearer skies, and zero light pollution. However, the nearest airport is at Lakselv, 80 kilometres away. It's a more expensive flight and Karasjok is just a village; there's not a whole lot to do.
Take a look at Aurora Service Tours (www.tours.aurora-service.eu/) which has helpful information.
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