Abisko, a village in northern Sweden, is known to be the quintessential location to view the Northern Lights and is a centre of rare natural events, attracting tourists and photographers from all around the world. Abisko is located 250km north of the Arctic Circle.
Northern Lights, also popularly known as Aurora Borealis, is a phenomenon that occurs when solar flares, the eruptions from the sun’s surface, mixes with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere creating bands of red, green and purple that float in the night sky.
Another natural wonder that occurs in the northernmost village of Sweden is the ‘blue hole’. A patch of sky, extending 10 to 20 sq km over Abisko, remains clear regardless of the weather in the rest of the village.
This extraordinary phenomenon is possible because it lies within the Auroral oval with a long dark season making auroral phenomenon appear from mid-August to April. This is why Abisko is the ideal place to view the Northern lights.
“The wind direction is chiefly from the west of this area, indicating that the air flowing is of higher altitude to pass over the Scandinavian Mountains. With this, clouds form and the air loses its moisture through precipitation resulting in the air of Abisko being dry and dropping to lower altitudes thus disintegrating clouds, hence the ‘blue hole’.”, explained Hakan Grudd, a research support coordinator and deputy station manager of the Abisko Research Station.
Though the Northern Lights are the centre of attraction during the winter months, there are other astounding weather events such as lunar rainbows and lunar halos, commonly known as ‘moonbows’. This occurs when moonlight reflects and refracts through water droplets and ice crystals in the air around the blue hole.
In addition, Abisko is home to 70,000 members of the indigenous Sami community living in the Arctic and sub-arctic parts of Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Abisko is also a home to reindeers. Since the area’s climate results in thin snow during winter, bringing in early spring attracts herds of reindeers in search of food.
Anette Niia and Ylva Sarri, members of the Sami community, are co-founders of Scandinavian Sami Photo adventures. They guide tourists to pass through the snowstorm to clear skies to witness the Aurora Borealis. They have spent time since their childhood watching the reindeers and share a deep connection with Abisko for its elusive trait.
Peter Rosen, a native of Sweden and an environmental researcher at Umea University, spent 13 years studying climate change in the Arctic via the Abisko Scientific Research Station. Rosen quit his work as an environmental scientist and ran Lappland Media, where he taught tourists how to photograph the Lights. “Seeing how people express their feelings after seeing the lights makes me feel I have the best job in the world”, exclaimed Rosen.
The dancing green lights have its spectators come from across the globe to bear witness to its’s magnificent beauty and admire the paradise of the Northern Lights.