Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Fox's fires

One of the biggest attractions of Lapland are definitely the northern lights. Even if I've seen them many times in my life and some really nice shows at that, too, I still enjoy seeing them raging in the sky glowing their eerie light down to me. They were a reason why I decided to come to work in Lapland for this season. Unfortunately the weather hasn't been very good for observing this season, but there has been some shows that have made me happy.

I've always found it funny that in Finnish language the word for the aurorae doesn't have anything with the north or polar areas to do. In Finnish it is "revontulet", which means "fox's fires". In Finnish mythology, the firefox (doesn't have anything to do with the browser!) was a mythical beast. It was a black fox, but in the tip of each piece of hair there was a sparkle. When the fox ran the sparkles flew to the sky and the tail threw some snow after them. That's how the "fox's fires" were formed. So when we see the northern lights we know that the fox is still running behind the next fell, creating the northern lights on the go.

I normally prepare for the clear nights (and torture myself after the cloudy ones) by checking the activity from Finnish Meteorological Institute's aurora service. Especially the magnetic disturbance level is great tool to see if there's any activity going on. Another one of my favourite aurora sites in the net is Even if it looks rather confusing at first it definitely gives you some of the best pieces of information about what's going on and what to expect in the next few days - as soon as you learn how to find it in the stream.

The aurorae are often considered to be one of the most beautiful natural phenomena and I agree with that wholeheartedly. I'm unbelievable lucky to have been born in Finland with such great chances to witness vivid auroral shows. But I never ever grow tired in them...

Some northern lights from this season
Some auroral shows I've seen this season

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