Experience The Solar Maximum

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What is the Solar Maximum?

The Solar Maximum is an astounding eruption of activity on the suns surface which causes the visual phenomena we know as the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights.

Basically, what happens is sunspots increase and harbor more energy to be released in the form of coronal mass ejections (CMEs). A CME consists of plasma from the sun itself — electrons and protons — with an accompanying  magnetic field.

When these charged particles strike the earth’s magnetosphere, they travel down the magnetic field lines to the poles. These collisions are what causes the display of the aurora borealis.

To scientists and astrologers, it is a reassuring sign that our own magnetic shield is functioning properly and protecting the earth from the suns solar flares.

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Sky watchers and space enthusiasts around the world are preparing for one of nature’s most exciting performances in 2013 as the solar maximum cycle is anticipated to peak this year.

Planning a trip to northern Finland, Sweden or Norway during the next 12 months is a great way to see the Northern Lights during the Solar Maximum.

 

Why are we experiencing it now?

Just like here on earth our biggest star the sun also has seasons. Activity on the sun peaks and drops accordingly and when our star begins to blast out a huge cloud of superheated plasma known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) – we get spectacular shows here on earth!

Watchers have had to travel to the polar regions to see the Northern Lights in the past, but now it can be seen as far south as Ireland on certain clear nights.

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) paint Irish skies green in Inishowen, County Donegal on St Patrick's Night. Image Adam Rory Porter

 

History and Folklore

The aurora borealis has long been shrouded in mystery, mythology, awe, and wonder throughout the world. Traditionally, in Lapland folklore, it was perceived to be the souls of the dead traveling across the heavens. Shamans would bang on drums attempting to harness the energy of the solar flares.

Each country had its own folklore which varies dramatically between a great fox in the sky sweeping its tail to spirits of old maids, animals or departed family.

 

sun67856 Where to see it

Scientists are predicting solar maximum activity will peak in the autumn of 2013, and many sky watchers are already making plans to travel to northern areas, such as Finland, to observe the show.

In fact, many of these travelers are particularly excited at the prospect of watching the northern lights in the northern hemisphere during a time in which autumn is in the air and winter is not yet fully in force..

The best countries to witness the Solar Maximum are Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Alaska, Canada, Russia and the Arctic.

Finland offers many offers and excursions to get out and enjoy this natural wonder while experiencing some fun winter activities such as reindeer sledding, dog sledding,  ice fishing, igloo huts and much more.

Travel Tip – Try to get a window seat when you fly in as there are many reports of sightings of the aurora from an aeroplane as there are no clouds blocking your view.

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2013 is one of the best times to experience the Solar Maximum, so get out there and witness this spectacular natural wonder while you can!