Hello all! We hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
We survived the night in the igloo (barely!). We had a wonderful Christmas Eve enjoying the Santa Claus Village! For dinner we had reservations at the Igloo Hotel’s Ice Restaurant. The tables, benches, drink glasses, and centerpieces were all made of ice. Sticking with the theme of the night, the restaurant was also a man made igloo!
As we waited for our reservation, the owner of the Igloo Hotel came out to notify us that the auroras were out. We quickly jumped up, grabbed our cameras and ran outside. Here are the pictures from our first aurora borealis experience.
Well as you can see, it wasn’t the spectacular dancing sky we were hoping for. You can see the faint green. In hindsight it did provide us with a crash course in how to take aurora pictures in extreme temperatures (-20 degrees Celsius). Let’s just say someone put a metal flashlight in their mouth and it had to be pulled off their lip….ouch. We were happy to even see this activity since Rovaniemi is not considered a great place to see the northern lights (too much light pollution).
Without much opportunity to warm up, we headed ‘in’ for dinner in the Ice Restaurant. We had an amazing three course meal including king crab soup, steak, and a cloud berry/white chocolate dessert (of course multiple cups of hot chocolate). Food and drinks were served on trays which we quickly learned why. Any dish left on the ice table immediately stuck. Our waiter had to chip away at the ice to remove them. Oops! Also, one thing we have noticed is they have all types berries in most drinks, sauces, and desserts. During the summer there is an abundance of berries. They collect them all summer and freeze them to enjoy during the winter months.
After dinner we planned to go on our own aurora hunt. As luck would have it, the owner came back in with that magical message again. This time the northern lights were really dancing! We ran out back and set up behind the igloo village. Fortunately this was an amazing decision. It’s rare to get to see the lights with this type of forefront. Adding to the amazement of capturing the northern lights was our ability to capture them in the Santa Claus Village including pictures of our igloos! Also, again it was very rare to see them in this area due to light pollution. We saw somewhere that they were at a 6 KP (explain later). We were very worried that we were not going to see the lights our whole two week trip, let alone our first night in Finland! Some people come here for months and don’t see them. A humbling, invigorating experience!
Aurora borealis facts (northern lights):
-The main colors of the lights are green, blue, red, and purple.
-Green is the most common color, caused by the excitation of oxygen atoms (same for red)
-Blue and purple originate from nitrogen (more rare colors to see)
– The solar maximum is on an 11 year cycle. We are at the pinnacle of the solar maximum right now. Next one will be 2025 (hence why we wanted to go this year).
-The solar maximum happens as the sun is releasing the most solar flares (high activity)
-The solar wind carries these at ridiculously high speeds toward the Earth’s atmosphere.
-The Earth’s magnetic field has only two openings, the north and south poles, allowing the particles to reach our atmosohere creating the phenomena of the aurora borealis.
-One item that we will look for when we are Aurora hunting is the KP index. KP index is a global geomagnetic storm index with a scale of 0 to 9. The higher the KP climbs the better the chances of a light show.
-The Finnish story is that the northern lights are created by a fire fox running across the snow striking the surface of the snow with its tail sending sparks into the sky.
-The Inuits believe that the aurora is the highest place of heaven, where the dead play futbol with the skull of a walrus (kinda dramatic).
Needless to say, our first day in Finland was extraordinary! Now it was time to calm down, relax?, and sleep in an igloo. Should we mention again it was -20 degrees Celsius! To help keep you warm, they provide you with individual thermal sleeping bags. They enclose your entire body with a small opening around your mouth and nose for breathing. We attempted to sleep, but really wasn’t happening. Our Florida bodies were telling us; outside exploring the Santa Village, two long photo sessions, and dinner at the Ice Restaurant in another igloo was enough! It felt more like an accomplishment, like running a half marathon, than a relaxing experience. You are even rewarded with a certificate authenticating this mission. Let’s just say…it was an experience.
Our first FULL day in Finland provided a lifetime of memories!! Now off to explore the city of Rovaniemi…