It was announced today that experts from NASA have predicted a double peak in the solar maximum cycle that will create another abundant viewing opportunity for tourists wishing to marvel at the northern lights.

In 2008 the NOAA NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, a group of the world’s leading solar physicists, originally forecast a solo peak in May 2013 reaching a slightly below average solar maximum intensity. However following a recent re-evaluation of data – leading experts on the panel now predict a second peak.

Jonny Cooper, managing director of Off the Map Travel, a soft adventure travel company that specialises in the northern lights, comments: “This is great news for travellers as the experts have predicted that the current window of intense northern lights activity will be open well into 2014. This will give those of us with a sense of adventure the chance to take in the wonders of the aurora for longer.”

It is expected that this news will fuel travellers’ passions to see the aurora before the end of the year with specialist travel companies preparing for the most popular weeks to sell out quickly for the 2013-2014 season.

Jonny continues: “Although there were some spectacular aurora shows this February, northern lights activity was quieter than expected. This would support the likelihood that although we are still in an active period of aurora light shows, their frequency and intensity will increase towards the end of 2013 creating this double peak.”

Dean Pesnell, leading member of the NOAA NASA Solar Cycle Prediction Panel, commented on an official NASA video *1 earlier this week that: “This is solar maximum but it looks different than we expected because it is double peaked.”

The last two solar maxima in 1989 and 2001 also had two peaks creating a mini cycle that lasted two years. Pesnell suggested that the same is happening now.

Sunspot numbers, that are directly responsible for aurora light shows, jumped in 2011, dipped in 2012 and Pesnell expects them to rebound again in 2013. He predicts: “I am comfortable in saying that another peak will happen in 2013 and possibly last into 2014”.*2

Experts believe that this can happen when sunspot numbers peak in the southern hemisphere of the sun after the northern hemisphere. The second peak of increased intensity and frequency of the northern lights, if it occurs, will likely see a surge of activity south of the sun’s equator.

Although there is no definitive way to predict the level of the sun’s activity – there is a general consensus between leading physicists specialising in sunspot activity that the best time to see the spectacular natural light show in this solar cycle will be over the next year.

Set amongst the mighty mountains of the Arctic, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Abisko and Björkliden are located within a rain shadow and away from the bright lights of the cities, providing some of the clearest and darkest skies in skies in the world for seeing the northern lights.

International scientists at the IRF in Northern Sweden estimate that visitors staying in the area for three or more days have an 80% *3 chance of viewing an Aurora – much higher than many other locations around the world.

Off the Map Travel tailor-make a travel itinerary to the region so there’s no need to worry about a thing. Why not learn and take you own stunning photograph with celebrated aurora photographer Chad Blakley from Lights Over Lapland; visit the world famous Aurora Sky Station or take a trip on a dogsled? Whatever soft adventure you’re looking for, this winter wonderland has it all.

Jonny Cooper, director of Off the Map Travel explains: “Swedish Lapland really is one of the most remarkable areas for a visit. Offering comfort and luxury, adventure and a family friendly culture, it is perfectly set up for the discerning couple, family or group wanting something new from their holiday experience.”

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