Photo: Raymond Hoffman
Tiny particles, protons and electrons caused by electronic storms on the sun (solar wind), are trapped in the earth's magnetic field and then begin to spiral back and forth along the magnetic lines of force - circle around the magnetic pole, so to speak. While rushing around endlessly in their magnetic trap, some particles escape into the earth's atmosphere. They begin to hit molecules in the atmosphere and these impacts cause the molecules to glow, thus creating the aurora.
You have a chance of seeing the northern lights, or aurora borealis, in Iceland whenever it is fully dark and not cloudy. That basically means from about September to March for the best displays – although you might be lucky enough to see a little bit in early April and late August too. But if you're really serious about seeing the northern lights you should visit Iceland when it is statistically darkest and clearest. The nights are nice and long from November to February and of those four months, December and February are (on average) slightly less cloudy.
Organized Northern Lights tours, however, provide experience and use technology that will get you to the right place at the right time for a sighting. Some nights the Northern Lights are everywhere, but other nights the guides really earn their keep. If you take a northern lights tour, take it early during your holiday. That way if you don't see anything, you'll have time to take the tour again for free.
Dress up extra warm; because the more you're wearing, the longer you'll comfortably be able to stay outside waiting and/or watching. And remember that clear nights tend to be cold nights.
Hit the road and experience cozy winter days & nights in Iceland. Be amazed by breathtaking landscapes, contrasts and extremes. Pretend you are on the moon, stretch your feet in the middle of nowhere, see the sights, reach for the stars and the Northern Lights.