Talk:Northern Lights

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Travel article?[edit]

Do we need a separate article for this? It doesn't really fit into Project:What is an article? - you could write about places to go to see the northern lights, but that's pretty much anywhere above a certain latitude. -- (WT-en) Ryan 12:41, 18 September 2006 (EDT)

I don't think this is necessary either. (WT-en) Jpatokal 13:55, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
I'm very much in favor of keeping it. Seeing them is most definitely not as simple as getting "anywhere above a certain latitude." (I'll be glad to expand on this, but be ready for some science-speak -- this gets close to what I do for a living.) There's quite a good topical article in here waiting to be written; the fact that the existing text isn't that article is a reason to improve it, not delete it. -- (WT-en) Bill-on-the-Hill 17:15, 18 September 2006 (EDT)

vfd discussion[edit]

  • Delete. This one doesn't quite fit the criteria of Project:What is an article?. An argument could be made for an article about places to see the northern lights, but that's pretty much anywhere above a certain latitude. Comments from others are appreciated. -- (WT-en) Ryan 14:03, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
    • Before keeping this one, just to be clear, Volcanoes is about safety when visiting volcanoes and includes a list of volcanoes around the world. Waterfalls includes a list of notable waterfalls. If we're going to keep an article about the Northern Lights it needs to be a travel article, and not just an encyclopedia article about the phenomena. I'm happy to keep this article, but I think we need to be clear about how this could become a travel article. -- (WT-en) Ryan 22:50, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
    • It looks like there may be a consensus to keep, and this article is being turned into a travel article so I'll rescind my earlier vote. -- (WT-en) Ryan 19:58, 21 September 2006 (EDT)
      • I have some specific ideas for that; will work on an outline this evening. -- (WT-en) Bill-on-the-Hill 10:05, 19 September 2006 (EDT)
    • Keep. In fact it is not the case that "anywhere above a certain latitude" is good for the northern lights (due to the offset of the magnetic North Pole from the geographical one, if you want to get technical), and this counterintuitive statement is exactly the kind of thing that one can build a topical article around. It's every bit as valid as Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Hot springs, which have been developed into Travel topics that we're proud to have here; no reason why this one can't be too. -- (WT-en) Bill-on-the-Hill 16:49, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
  • Keep. We have a "Soccer in Europe" travel topic, why not "Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere" (so to speak)? Likewise Volcanoes, Waterfalls, etc. In any case, appropriate topic/content, and the intention of the "exceptions" guidelines appears to be to permit articles on distant, large, complex events (again, so to speak) which cannot be incorporated into any single you-can-sleep-here guide. ~ 15:23, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
  • Keep. (WT-en) Pashley 20:10, 18 September 2006 (EDT)
  • To be honest i saw articles about Formula One and various articles about Scuba diving, and decided to try to make a rough outline for an article about the Northern Lights, feel free to delete it if it doesn't fit in. I was well aware that the article would be something less than a travel guide when first created and agree it needs more input into places that organise "northern lights tours" etc. However: if someone is interested in traveling to see the northern lights it seems impractical to mention it in individual country articles. Like i said, feel free to delete if it doesn't fit in. If you decide to keep it it would be nice to have at least one picture of the lights and a map showing the northern lights oval (as mentioned above) in relation to the northern hemisphere.


The article talks about "The Northern Lights oval", the area of most activity. Could we have a map showing both the geographic and the magnetic pole, the oval, and some latitudes? Also, perhaps another for the Southern Lights? I think this would make the whole thing much clearer. Pashley (talk) 17:43, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Yes, absolutely. I'll work on that. --Peter Talk 19:37, 16 March 2013 (UTC)

Upgrade to guide?[edit]

What does this article still need before upgrade to guide? • • • Peter (Southwood) (talk): 10:50, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

Guide criteria state:

  1. Effectively covers most aspects of the topic with no obvious omissions.
  2. If practical, it should contain a listing of relevant destinations.
  3. The format should closely match the manual of style.

It looks pretty good on all counts to me. • • • Peter (Southwood) (talk): 10:59, 3 April 2013 (UTC)

A map would really improve it. Otherwise, I agree it is ready. Pashley (talk) 12:20, 3 April 2013 (UTC)
Just some ideas:
  • Adding a couple of more destination wouldn't harm.
  • The forecast section could grow by adding more region specific alert links or web services (for example by local meteorological institutes, also in combination with cloudiness). But I still don't have a clear idea about the structure of such section, so I didn't start with that.
  • What is the "Into the wilds" section for?
  • I would find a map showing possible geographical observation limits at certain Kp's rather useful, something along these lines (but more global or several of them) - is this what you mean by "a map"?

--Danapit (talk) 07:38, 4 April 2013 (UTC)

I think the Geophysical Institute's maps of the usual viewing range [1] are the most helpful, but I don't know what their copyright status is. I'll give them a call today once Alaska wakes up. --Peter Talk 15:40, 4 April 2013 (UTC)


The article currently uses both the Latin plural aurorae and the form following the usual English rules, auroras. This is not a major issue, but ideally it would briefly discuss the fact that there are two plurals, choose one, and use that consistently in the rest of the article. Personally, I'd choose aurorae, but there are arguments both ways. Pashley (talk) 15:20, 21 April 2013 (UTC)

There may be other minor consistency issues as well; words like "Lights", "northern" and "south" are usually but not always capitalised. Pashley (talk) 15:27, 21 April 2013 (UTC)
I would be inclined to use -ae for plurals. I am not a native speaker and don't feel qualified to decide whether to use capitals or not, but again, I support strongly their consistent use. Danapit (talk) 10:20, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
I added an infobox on auroras/aurorae and changed all "auroras" outside the box to "aurorae". Pashley (talk) 23:57, 8 May 2013 (UTC)
Very good idea with the infobox. I added some text and bullet points to "Into the wilds" (it was empty so far) and "Photography". Anyone feel free to edit the text. Regarding the pictures in the article, #4 is nice, but I can imagine finding something more spectacular. Danapit (talk) 13:39, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
I replaced the figure #4 for another one. Danapit (talk) 14:04, 9 May 2013 (UTC)


Is there an important reason why almost every subheading is irregular and kind of long? Couldn't "Understanding the lights better" be "Understand"? Couldn't "Planning to see the Northern Lights" be dispensed with, while keeping the 2nd-order subheadings ("Time of year," "Time of day," etc. - so I'd shorten those, too) under "Prepare"? Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:48, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree, though I'd just shorten "Planning to see the Northern Lights" to "Planning". Pashley (talk) 18:45, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Photography questions[edit]

Current text is good, but it leaves some questions open:

  • What length of lens? Wide angle to get most of the sky? Telephoto to focus in on a small area? Standard or short tele as a compromise?
  • Zoom so you can adjust quickly for different aurora sizes? Or a prime (one focal length) lens because they are generally faster, lighter and sharper for any given length.

If anyone knows enough about this specific photo problem to answer those, it would be a good addition to the article. Pashley (talk) 18:45, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

Churchill#Other essentials has most everything I know about it (not all that much), and might be better in part offloaded to this article. Churchill#Winter has most everything I know about not freezing to death while doing the photography, and that I can actually speak to with some expertise. The only thing I didn't mention there is that you can't rely on your car (which you should keep running the whole time) to keep you warm without really good winter clothing/gear, since extreme cold is too much for a standard heating unit to cope with in warming a metal vehicle. --Peter Talk 18:53, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
How about adding Churchill to destinations? Danapit (talk) 13:56, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

A bit of web searching gave reasonable answers to my questions, so I've added them to the article. Pashley (talk) 00:09, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

From a balcony?[edit]

I'm lazy and, like any Canadian, I know cold weather can be quite dangerous & very uncomfortable, though it can be dealt with. Unlike some, I am inclined to avoid it whenever possible; I wrote retiring abroad partly because of that.

My idea of the best place to view the Lights would be a countryside hotel room with a North-facing balcony big enough for a tripod or two. Preferably sheltered on the East, West and above, to reduce both wind & light pollution. I would not go as far as trying to photograph through a picture window, but I might do most of my watching from inside and I'd be wondering about remote control of the camera.

Does anywhere set up like that exist? Pashley (talk) 14:36, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

Remote control for the camera is a pretty popular method for photographing the lights in really cold weather. The problem with watching the lights from (most) hotels is that there are interfering light sources at or around the hotel. I know of a couple places that have a set up away from civilization, like these glass domed igloos [2]. The coolest stuff I've seen is in Iceland, where you can hang out in hot springs at night and watch the lights [3]. Although that presumably is a really bad set up for photography, and probably will entail light interference too. But man, that has got to be awesome! --Peter Talk 16:56, 11 May 2013 (UTC)

More destinations and improve destinations[edit]

I like the way the destinations are listed now, always with a short description. However, wouldn't adding some more destinations be a good idea? Covering more countries where aurora is usually observed? We have Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Alaska, Greenland, but some are still missing: Canada (Yellowknife?), Russia (Murmansk?).

Also we should make sure that destination referred to contain some relevant northern lights related information. By specific information I mean more than "northern lights can be observed here"). For example:

  • Yellowknife - contains useful aurora info, but needs some work on listings (some info double: in See and Do categories)
  • Kangerlussuaq article contains still broken links to pictures.
  • Tromsø - many broken links!
  • Skibotn - outline, no northern lights related information
  • Jukkasjärvi - outline, no northern lights related information
  • Kilpisjärvi - no northern lights specific information (is northern lights "see" or "do"?)
  • Inari - no northern light related information
  • Utsjoki - outline, no northern light specific information, (is northern lights "see" or "do"?)
  • Saariselkä - add the glass igloo hotel info
  • Murmansk Oblast - no northern lights specific information

Can we improve on that? Danapit (talk) 10:03, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

I added Churchill, but it does need more. Pashley (talk) 11:56, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
There are other places that link here. For example, the Isle Royale National Park article says:
"Depending on solar activity and magnetic field fluctuations, the aurora borealis ("Northern Lights") is frequently visible. On clear nights, the lack of light pollution offers outstanding star-gazing opportunities at lakeshores where the tree cover breaks."
Should it or any of the additional places that link to this article be added, or do we have enough already? Ikan Kekek (talk) 14:34, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
I think we could add Isle Royale National Park... sorry for the late answer ;) --Danapit (talk) 16:06, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

I have made this summary of aurora destinations (N Hemisphere for the time being). It would be nice if we had ticks in all fields before we feature NL (end of September). Also less red? Danapit (talk) 15:58, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

NH Destination Country Status Custom banner NL specific info Comments (which specific info)
Fairbanks Alaska, USA Usable Yes Yes University of Alaska Museum
Isle Royale National Park Michigan, USA Star Yes Yes 1 paragraph (practical tip)
Yellowknife Northwest Territories, Canada Usable Yes Yes Specialized tour companies
Churchill Manitoba, Canada Guide Yes Yes Plenty: Season, photography, observation tower, car rental, accommodation, Churchill Northern Studies Center
Kangerlussuaq Greenland Outline Yes Yes not much, but at least 1 tour operator
Mývatn Iceland Usable Yes Yes Some: Season, hotels and tour operators offer guided tours and aurora hunts, observing aurora from geothermal bath
Reykjavík Iceland Guide Yes Yes a paragraph in Do
Berneray Scotland, United Kingdom Star Yes main winter attraction
Tromsø Norway Guide Yes Yes Plenty: Season, transport to a recommended spot, subsection in see, tour operators, Northern Lights Festival
Skibotn Norway Outline Yes Yes one watching spot
Alta Norway Outline Yes Yes Some: Aurora Borealis city, 1 tour operator
Jukkasjärvi Sweden Outline Yes Little: 1 tour operator
Abisko Sweden Usable Yes Yes Some: Aurora Sky Station
Kilpisjärvi Finland Outline Yes Northern Lights Route
Inari Finland Outline Yes Yes mentioned in Do
Utsjoki Finland Outline Yes mentioned in See
Saariselkä Finland Outline Yes Yes some: probability, tour operator, Igloo Village
Murmansk Oblast Russia Outline Yes just mentioned
SH Destination Country Status Custom banner SL specific info Comments (which specific info)
Hobart Tasmania, Australia Usable Yes Yes some: chances to spot, forecast - this could be also added to the article's alerts section
Invercargill New Zealand Outline Yes Yes 1 paragraph in See
Macquarie Island Australia Usable Yes Yes Aurora Expeditions
New Zealand Subantarctic Islands New Zealand Outline Yes Mentioned in Do
Stewart Island New Zealand Outline Yes Yes Some: chances of observation

Finnish destinations are somewhat over-represented, maybe we can skip one or two. Danapit (talk) 16:01, 29 August 2013 (UTC)

Article status[edit]

I just bumped it from Usable to Guide, which I think is justified. What would it take to get it to Star? I think only dealing with Danapit's question about destinations in the section above. Pashley (talk) 11:56, 15 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree it is a Guide now. Danapit (talk) 12:54, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
It's pretty close to star status now! I'll try bothering the GI Alaska folks again for their maps [4], since it would be very good to add a nice Southern Lights map. Wikivoyagifying the maps would be nice, and that's something I can certainly help with.
I agree that we need information about more destinations for the Northern Lights, per the conversation above. We'll probably want to pare down the number of photos too, as it looks very crammed right now on a wide screen, and some relevant destinations will not offer high speed internet access. We should probably remove the infobox about spelling too, as it's custom to avoid self-references in our guides, unless it's for comic effect. If someone comes along to "correct" the spelling, we can just revert and point to the talk page discussion. And that also will help reduce the cramming. --Peter Talk 15:46, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I'm not sure we need a Southern Lights map, given that we have a map of the Northern oval and a photo from space of the Southern one. Pashley (talk) 16:05, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I think maps for N and S hemisphere in VW style would be great contributions! Agree with reducing number of aurora pictures (although ít's sometimes easier adding stuff than dumping). I like the infobox idea, but it does mess up the page a little. We could look for a nice picture for the new page banner, too. Danapit (talk) 16:32, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Searching Commons, I found only one photo the right shape for a page banner. I've put it in.
Photos I'd definitely keep:
The lead photo; I think it is the best we have.
Map and space photo in the Understand section. The magnetic field diagram could go.
Both photos in the photography section, since they are both used to illustrate points in the text.
The one in the Southern Lights section; it is lovely.
I'm not much inclined to delete any and there are several others I quite like, but everything else is negotiable. Pashley (talk) 17:17, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
That banner is really pretty, but somewhat shockingly (given that it's on Commons) it's not compatible with our Wikivoyage:Copyleft. The CC license is non-commercial only, and commercial re-use is only permissable under the terms of GFDL v1.2. I'll find something else, or perhaps re-use one of the images already in the article (so we can remove it without losing it). --Peter Talk 19:52, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
So here are the best two banners I could come up with: [5] and [6]. I think I like the second one best. --Peter Talk 20:23, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I'd be delighted with either one. Sorry about not helping choose between them. :-) Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:02, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
I like both, mildly prefer the first. Pashley (talk) 22:30, 15 May 2013 (UTC)
Peter, I prefer the first one, but the other is pretty, too. Danapit (talk) 06:20, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Backup and further edits[edit]

I have put a copy of the current page at User:Pashley/Lights as a backup. I know everything will be in history, but for photos I think being able to see them is critical.

Next I'm going to edit a bunch, reducing the photos wherever possible. Then we can talk about what comes next; possibilities include overwriting my changed version with the backup or importing some photos back from the backup. Pashley (talk) 20:40, 16 May 2013 (UTC)

Have a look now. I deleted every photo I thought we might be OK without, plus the spelling infobox and the magnetic field diagram. Since two of the three surviving photos (the lead one and one in photography) were at 400px I then made the third (in Southern Lights) the same size. Pashley (talk) 20:53, 16 May 2013 (UTC)
I feel like you actually deleted too many photos. Auroras are beautiful, and having a few more photos of great auroras is good, although it doesn't have to be as many as were there before. Why do we want so few photos? Is it a file size issue? Ikan Kekek (talk) 02:37, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Reasons are discussed in the section just above, #Article_status. I agree I took out too many, but it seemed a good idea to pare it right down and then judiciously add to it. First one I'd put back is the one from Quebec in the Alerts section of the backup, mostly because I like the colours. Pashley (talk) 03:18, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
I also would like the 2nd photo taken near Tromso to be reinserted. That's the 2nd one I'd put back. Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:25, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Ikan Kekan, do you mean the one in Photography session? I would like to have that near Tromso picture back. And perhaps the one with the tower (Alaska)? It does not have any unusual spectacular colors, but I like the composition. Danapit (talk) 07:57, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
The file name for the one I'm talking about is "Aurora over Haja-3,2.jpg". It shows a mostly greenish aurora in a roughly semi-circular shape and its reflection over a lake. The one with the tower is also beautiful. Ikan Kekek (talk) 08:40, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
I have inserted Aurora over Haja-3,2.jpg and Quebec pictures back. Anything else? Danapit (talk) 10:25, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Norway, 1910
I quite like the one from Banff in the "observing sites" section of the backup and I'm tempted to move the Haja one out of the photography section in order to insert the one at the right. A bit of comic relief? Pashley (talk) 11:57, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Excellent idea with the old photo =) Danapit (talk) 13:36, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, I love it, too! Ikan Kekek (talk) 15:33, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

Currently there are two sections without photos, Planning and Observing sites. I suggest adding one photo each, and then adding no more; if we later find or take a great shot it might replace something but we want to avoid clutter.

I'd put the Banff shot in Planning, since a tall photo and a long section work well together, and the one with the tower in Observing sites. Other opinions? Pashley (talk) 13:31, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

I agree. You're doing a real good progress with the article. What about trying the other page banner? Danapit (talk) 13:41, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
I changed the banner and added the two photos.
I'd say this is now ready for a star nomination. Other opinions? Pashley (talk) 14:13, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree. Just one question I can think of: Are travel topics supposed to have a notice saying "This is a travel topic" somewhere? Ikan Kekek (talk) 22:19, 18 May 2013 (UTC)
I put in a {{traveltopic}} tag and User:Traveler100 promptly took it out with edit comment "traveltopic template has been replaced by PartOfTopic". It seems to me he or she is right (though I have not read the discussion); the breadcrumb line shows it is a travel topic so the tag is redundant. Pashley (talk) 13:28, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Alta, in the far North of Norway, is described in its text as "the Aurora Borealis city" but other than that the article does not mention the aurora or tours. Should it be added here? Does anyone have info that might be added to its article? Pashley (talk) 15:13, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

I suggested above that we stop adding photos once we were at one per section "if we later find or take a great shot it might replace something but we want to avoid clutter." We did find a great shot, the image from space that is now at Northern_Lights#Alerts (thanks, Danapit!) but now we have two pictures at Northern_Lights#Observing_sites. Should we get rid of one photo?

There are only two I'd be willing to lose. I like both, but think they are the worst of a good lot. One is the one with the tower in Northern_Lights#Observing_sites. Others have said they really like this, but it does not particularly move me. Just delete it and get the section back to one photo? Alternately, remove the one from Banff in Northern_Lights#Planning and move either tower or the Quebec one to that section? I think Banff is an interesting photo, but it is a bit blurry and it is in portrait orientation which does not fit in as well as others.

Other opinions? Pashley (talk) 18:37, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

I went ahead and removed the Banff shot. If anyone disagrees strongly, that can be reverted. Pashley (talk) 18:54, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

From an aircraft[edit]

Another aspect that came on my mind: do we have any pilot here or a frequent flyer to report about observing auroras from the air [7]? I've never been lucky myself... Danapit (talk) 08:43, 17 May 2013 (UTC)

My uncle has seen them 4-5 times from planes. What sort of info were you thinking of? --Peter Talk 16:41, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, on transatlantic flights the routes seem to be directed a lot toward the North, flying over Iceland or S Greenland. Also from the height one can see further toward the northern horizon. Also you often have low clouds and after taking off you travel above them, which improves the chance of spotting Aurorae (in higher latitudes that is). On the other hand, the windows in planes are tinted and at night people usually tend to cover them. I wonder how frequent it is to actually see Aurorae from planes. Danapit (talk) 17:31, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
I guess it must depend heavily on the route, maybe northerly dusky routes that aren't overnight? I'll check with my uncle where he was seeing them so often—he was actually surprised during a recent family get-together when this came up that no one else had seen them while flying. --Peter Talk 17:45, 17 May 2013 (UTC)
He says he thinks he saw them (more than once) while flying over the Great Lakes. The method was simply that the pilot announced that anyone on the correct side of the plane should really open their window shade and take a look! We might mention this possibility, but I'm not sure whether it's something one could reasonably plan. --Peter Talk 16:07, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Thanks for asking! I will see if we can include something about aurora & flying in the article. Danapit (talk) 18:40, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I presume that, since they are at quite high altitude, the lights are of zero danger to aircraft. Correct? But could they, or the solar storms they are sometimes associated with, interfere with radio or navigation? Pashley (talk) 19:14, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
A really powerful geomagnetic storm could disrupt radio communications and possibly turn off the lights in control towers, with more details at w:Geomagnetic storm#Disrupted systems. The lights are a byproduct and harmless, though. --Peter Talk 20:12, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Hmm, I wonder if it would be worthwhile mentioning the possibility of seeing the lights from Space? I bet they look pretty cool from the ISS! A slightly more difficult and expensive trip, though. --Peter Talk 16:41, 21 May 2013 (UTC)

We do have one photo that shows them from space, in Northern_Lights#Understand. There was another (see User:Pashley/Lights#Alerts), pretty but low resolution. Pashley (talk) 21:48, 21 May 2013 (UTC)
Web search for "aurora space" turns up a number of good images including a higher-res version of that one. Most are from NASA, so license should be OK. Do we have a volunteer to import a good one to Commons then add it here? Pashley (talk) 15:13, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Will do! Danapit (talk) 15:47, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
What about this one: [8] ? Danapit (talk) 17:49, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Wow! I think it should go in the Alerts section, next to the discussion of satellites used for that. Pashley (talk) 18:00, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
I put it in. I'm not sure we have the perfect choice & arrangement of photos yet, but it is really good now. Pashley (talk) 18:14, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Maybe there are too many, but this is a visual topic! Danapit (talk) 18:28, 26 May 2013 (UTC)


In my opinion, there are a few points left. This is from Last minute checklist in Star nominations, so these would be obvious topics for the discussion:

  • A Wikivoyage-style map, with all attractions marked.
  • This is a minor issue: "Listings should be in alphabetical order — geographical order is also acceptable if it is deemed better." We don't have real listings here, but a list of destinations, which we should order geographically. What about N America first, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia and S hemisphere last?

And furthermore:

  • Might issues discussed in this section play a role in the decision process? Danapit (talk) 08:20, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
I do not think we need a map specifically showing destinations, given the map of the oval, but that does seem debatable.
I've put the destination list in West-to-East order. It would be good to add a Russian destination and perhaps to change the format of the list in the Southern Lights section.
The last issue you raise is important and unsolved. Pashley (talk) 11:39, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
You just anticipated my question. Yes, I do think it would be interesting to include Russian viewing areas. In particular, I'm thinking of Kamchatka, which like Iceland has many thermal baths. I don't know how good their weather is for viewing, however. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:03, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Kamchatka is a fair ways away from the oval. The Murmansk area is more accessible, more likely to have lights, and nearer to population centers. Checking, I see Kola as a red link and no mention of the lights in Murmansk, though they are mentioned in Murmansk Oblast. Pashley (talk) 12:24, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Yeah, you're right about Kamchatka in relation to the oval. I hadn't been looking at that. Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:30, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
I moved the mention of the Murmansk region from an earlier section into the destination list. Pashley (talk) 12:37, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Re: Russian viewing, I've never heard of anyone going anywhere other than Murmansk. Arkhangelsk might work, as would some other very, very remote and impractical places (like Norilsk), but Murmansk is definitely the destination. The viewing is not going to be as good an experience as in northern Scandinavia, for several reasons, but it's very cheap to go there if you are already in Russia. --Peter Talk 20:26, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Looking at "what links here" for Northern Lights turns up Berneray and Alta. Should they be added?
We now have nine lines, but twelve cities since some lines mention more than one. Is it time to start trimming? Pashley (talk) 22:23, 19 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, they should be added. I don't think the list of cities should be trimmed; instead, geographic subtitles can be added as needed (I'd propose "North America," "North Atlantic islands" [which would encompass Greenland, Iceland, and the Outer Hebrides], "Eurasia" - or perhaps just "Europe," as we have no entries for extremely remote parts of Asiatic Russia). Ikan Kekek (talk) 04:53, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Yes, Berneray and Alta should be in, too. Danapit (talk) 07:41, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I am not sure, does Berneray belong to North Atlantic islands or Europe? I decided for the former. Feel free to correct me. Danapit (talk) 12:12, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

I think the article itself is now entirely ready for a star nomination. I'm not certain if fixes in things it links to are required first, though. Checking Wikivoyage:Travel topic status I find mostly criteria that I think this article obviously meets:

  • Covers the topic fully.
  • Layout and listings either match the manual of style exactly or are the exception that proves the rule.
  • Prose is not only near-perfect grammatically but also tight, effective, and enjoyable.
  • At least one good-quality photo or illustration accompanies the article.

There is only one where I see any possible doubt:

  • If practical (such as for a niche activity), it has a map identifying relevant destinations.

To me, the current map seems adequate, but this might be debatable. Pashley (talk) 19:16, 26 May 2013 (UTC)

The Northern Lights map is OK, but the space image for the Southern Lights is not adequate because it's just a snapshot, which does not show the range. In any rate, I can definitely do better. I keep meaning to call the Geophysical Institute to see if they'll license their maps under CC-by-SA, but never remember to do so during Alaska business hours (I usually edit on weekdays in the morning and late at night EST, when they're closed). They didn't respond to my email. --Peter Talk 19:24, 26 May 2013 (UTC)
Pashley did really great work on the article over the last weeks! I do think it is ready for nomination, let's just wait for Peter's map/maps. Although I would find a set of maps based on those from NOAA webpage most suitable, as they show where to expect aurora at different Kp's, while those from GI show auroral ovals for single Kp s. The NOAA's maps should be free domain, although not necessarily in WV style. Danapit (talk) 08:01, 27 May 2013 (UTC)
I definitely could use the NOAA maps, but they only show the lowest latitude at which they can be seen—they don't show where the aurora will actually appear. If I could get the GI to allow us to use their maps, presumably I could use all of them (for each Kp level) to create a more sophisticated map (or maybe even a dynamic infographic?) for our purposes. --Peter Talk 09:06, 27 May 2013 (UTC)


In the discussion of hiring a guide at Northern_Lights#Observing_sites I just added the sentence "Some offer unusual transport options such as dog sled or snowmobile, and most tourists could not safely drive those." What about reindeer; do Finnish tours offer those? If so, they might be mentioned. Does anyone, perhaps in Russia, use horse and sleigh? Pashley (talk) 12:00, 19 May 2013 (UTC)

Seems anything is possible in Kiruna, Sweden. I bet there would be a tour operator for reindeer aurora safari in Rovaniemi, too. Danapit (talk) 15:38, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Southern Lights viewing locations[edit]

How close are Patagonia and the Falkland Islands to the oval? I assume South Africa is not close. Any more remote islands to talk about? Ikan Kekek (talk) 12:33, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Good questions, especially Patagonia. Pashley (talk) 12:59, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
The Southern Lights skew towards the Eastern Hemisphere, so neither Patagonia nor the Falklands are good for seeing them [9] (Kp=9 is super high geomagnetic activity, and only covers the Antarctic Peninsula). Compare with Tasmania and the south of New Zealand [10], which are still pretty far out. To put things in perspective, look at these maps [11] & [12]. Kp9 means things are visible at latitudes like Washington, D.C. and London (good luck seeing them from there). --Peter Talk 18:01, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


In the caption of the lights from space photo, I said the thing in the foreground was "Canadarm". I'm Canadian and to me, that is obviously the right name; the device is our main contribution to ISS and often mentioned in media here. I was actually surprised that not everyone recognised it. One contributor, however, "corrected" it to "Canada" and then another made it "a robotic arm", which is the current text.

Leave as is? Make it "the Canadarm robotic arm"? Or is that too long? Delete all mention of what's in the foreground since the lights are the point of the photo? Revert to "Canadarm" since everyone "ought to" know that term? Pashley (talk) 12:59, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

The Canadarm robotic arm. I follow Canada much more than most Americans, and I didn't know what the Canadarm was, so whether people "ought to" know that term or not, I daresay most non-Canadians won't know it. Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:06, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
I must admit I was also ignorant about the Canadarm existence until I was uploading the picture to commons and I would not say it is obvious to most travelers, so "the Canadarm robotic arm" would be better understandable.
I put "ought to" in quotes to indicate that I did not believe it; I probably should have used single 'scare quotes'. I concur with the consensus for "the Canadarm robotic arm". Pashley (talk) 14:44, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
I was a bit sad about the change of name of the section Into the wild, I grew to like it, let's consider keeping it, as it is more poetic than Clothing. Danapit (talk) 14:21, 28 May 2013 (UTC)
I moved the part of that section that dealt with choosing a site into "Observing sites", and what is left deals only with clothing. Pashley (talk) 14:44, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Consolidate clothing advice?[edit]

There is currently advice on arctic wear at Northern_Lights#Clothing, Churchill#Winter, Cold_weather#Clothing and quite possibly in other places too. The three mentioned have overlapping but not identical advice.

I suggest we move as much as possible into the Cold weather article and reduce the others to minimum text and a link.

A similar question might arise for the photography section. Currently, this article has detailed advice for photographing the lights and both the Churchill article and Travel_photography#Lenses link to it. I'd say that is as it should be, but a case could be made for moving that text into the photography article leaving just a link here since wide angle lenses are also used for architecture & landscapes. Pashley (talk) 15:03, 30 May 2013 (UTC)

I think it would be best for auroral photography to be covered here, with an inbound link from Travel photography. --Peter Talk 15:26, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
I agree on the photography.
For clothing, I have merged most of the material from here into the Cold weather article, but have not made any change at Churchill#Winter. I think that would be a fine idea, but it needs other opinions. Pashley (talk) 02:16, 31 May 2013 (UTC)

Rocket through the lights[edit]

Rocket flown through northern lights to help unlock space weather mysteries Interesting, but I am not sure if it should be mentioned in the article. Pashley (talk) 06:53, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Surely exciting, but I don't see much use for travelers or aurora photographers. --Danapit (talk) 07:29, 23 February 2015 (UTC)

Aurora Train[edit]

This Alaskan northern lights train journey is the real-life Polar Express Pashley (talk) 23:49, 14 December 2018 (UTC)

Magnetic pole movement[edit]

Our article says the pole is "now near Ellesmere Island in the nearly uninhabited far north of Canada". This article Earth’s magnetic field is acting up and geologists don’t know why shows it quite a ways from there. Do we need an update? Pashley (talk) 11:01, 11 January 2019 (UTC)

Magnetic north just changed. Pashley (talk) 22:35, 5 February 2019 (UTC)
One should say something about this, but I do not really know what to say. --LPfi (talk) 16:57, 6 February 2019 (UTC)
Earth's Magnetic North Pole Has Officially Moved Pashley (talk) 04:10, 30 October 2019 (UTC)
I updated the text. I think the "northern lights oval" graphic probably needs change too, since it uses as outdated pole location, & I don't do graphics.
Is there a volunteer? Pashley (talk) 04:41, 30 October 2019 (UTC)

Light pillars?[edit]


Not Aurora, but apparently also mostly a northern phenomenon. Light Pillars In Northern Ontario. Quite a few photos on Commons. Are these common enough to go in the article? Pashley (talk) 16:21, 23 June 2019 (UTC)

They are sure worth adding to some article, but I don't know if this is the right one. The northern lights are caused by electrons hitting the Earth's magnetic field, whereas different halos are caused by light diffracted by ice crystals. Ypsilon (talk) 16:55, 23 June 2019 (UTC)