2014 Proves a Bumper Year for Aurora Spotters

After a bumper start to the year for aurora spotters in 2014, people across the UK were treated to stunning displays of the Northern Lights last night with the sky lit with the aurora’s trademark green glow as far south and Essex.

Mark Thompson, presenter of the BBC’s Stargazing Live, said he had not been expecting a display as spectacular as it was in places such as Wick, in Caithness.

Last night’s Northern Lights were caused by a period of solar activity measuring KP-6 (moderate intensity) on the KP index which tracks the activity level of the Sun. More commonly seen in northern Scotland, clear skies helped people as far south as Essex and areas of southern England enjoy the phenomenon – something that only happens a few times every decade.

Jonny Cooper, managing director of Off the Map Travel, a soft adventure travel company that specialises in trips to experience the Northern Lights, comments: “Although on paper it wasn’t one of the strongest solar storm we’ve had this year, conditions meant that it provided a great opportunity for people in the UK to experience the wonder of the Northern Lights. It is never an exact science as there is so much yet to be explained about the sun’s interaction with earth, however, in some ways that is what makes it all the more exciting.”

This auroral display has punctuated one of the best starts to the Northern Lights season this decade for the aurora holidaymakers. Clear skies and active solar activity during the opening months in 2014 have resulted in great conditions for those heading north to experience the northern lights, with the opportunity to see the lights increasing by up to 25%*3 from last year.

This data has been collated from Northern Lights sightings over Bjorkliden and Abisko, northern Sweden, by Lights over Lapland and UK based travel specialist Off the Map Travel.

January has proved the most active month so far this year; however, as we move into March where Polar Regions can have clearer skies, the opportunities to experience the greatest natural light show on earth could get even better.

Jonny Cooper, managing director of Off the Map Travel, a soft adventure travel company that specialises in trips to experience the Northern Lights, comments: “It has been an incredible start to the year with over 82% of nights so far this year giving us great Northern Lights activity. There are still opportunities to see the lights, however we would recommend going before the end of March as this gives you the dark night skies you need to see them.”

In the past, international scientists at the IRF, Northern Sweden, have estimated that visitors staying in the area for three or more days have an 80%*1 chance of viewing an Aurora – much higher than many other locations around the world. However due the active start to 2014, the chance of seeing the lights during the last two months over any given three day period was significantly higher.

Chad Blakley, world class aurora photographer and founder of Lights over Lapland said: “It has been an unbelievable start to the year. Not only have we had aurora on more nights in succession than I can ever remember, but we have also been treated to shows that you can only dream of. It’s not just visitors who are amazed by the lights at the moment – it’s the locals as well!”

Set amongst the mighty mountains of the Arctic, 120 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Björkliden and Abisko are away from the bright lights of the cities, providing some of the clearest and darkest skies in the world for seeing the Northern Lights.

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 to take your 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.”

For more information visit www.offthemap.travel, call 0800 566 8901 or email [email protected]