Northern Lights, Hearing is Believing

Posted by on 07 Sep 2023

Northern Lights Tours in Iceland: Unveiling the Enigmatic Symphony of the Aurora

Iceland, the Land of Fire and Ice, is renowned for its breathtaking natural wonders and unique phenomena. Among these extraordinary spectacles, the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, stand out as one of the most captivating and elusive displays of nature's grandeur. While the vibrant colors dancing across the night sky steal the show, there is a lesser-known aspect of this celestial phenomenon that adds an extra layer of enchantment: the mysterious sounds of the Northern Lights.


In this article, we embark on a journey to uncover the hidden symphony of the auroras and explore the scientific breakthrough that has shed light on this long-standing mystery. Join us as we delve into the realm of the Northern Lights tours in Iceland and discover the ethereal sounds that accompany these mesmerizing celestial shows.

What are the Northern Lights?

Before we dive into the enigmatic sounds of the Northern Lights, let's first understand what exactly they are. The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a natural light display that occurs in the polar regions when charged particles from the sun collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth's atmosphere. This collision releases energy in the form of dazzling lights that illuminate the night sky with vibrant hues of green, pink, purple, and sometimes even red.

Iceland, with its northern location and minimal light pollution, offers a prime viewing spot for witnessing the enchanting dance of the Northern Lights. Travelers from all over the world flock to this Nordic island to catch a glimpse of this celestial spectacle and experience the magic firsthand.

The Myth of the Silent Lights

For years, Northern Lights enthusiasts have claimed to hear a distinct, ethereal noise accompanying the visual display of the auroras. However, this phenomenon, known as the vox aurorae or "voice of the aurora borealis," was often dismissed as mere folklore or imagination. Skeptics believed that the Northern Lights were a silent phenomenon, captivating the senses only through visual stimulation.


The Discovery of the Aurora's Symphony

In recent times, researchers at Aalto University in Finland embarked on a mission to unravel the truth behind the myth of the silent lights. Professor Unto K. Laine, an acoustics researcher, dedicated his ears to capturing and understanding the sounds of the aurora. Through his groundbreaking Auroral Acoustics project, Laine and his team set out to prove or debunk the existence of the vox aurorae.

In mid-March 2013, during an intense geomagnetic storm, Laine and his team were treated to an aural feast. They collected and analyzed sound samples, finally shedding light on the source of the mysterious sounds accompanying the Northern Lights.

Capturing the Sounds of the Auroras

Capturing the sounds of the auroras proved to be a challenging task. Witnesses had described these sounds as a hiss, a growl, or even the clapping of invisible hands. However, due to their elusive nature, these auroral sounds were notoriously difficult to record. Nevertheless, Laine's determination and innovative approach led to a breakthrough.

Using specialized equipment and recording techniques, Laine and his team were able to capture the sounds of the Northern Lights during a geomagnetic storm. The resulting samples provided valuable insights into the nature and origin of the auroral symphony.

The Auroral Acoustics Project

The Auroral Acoustics project aimed to gather data about the sounds of the auroras and analyze their characteristics. By studying the frequency, intensity, and patterns of the sounds, Laine and his team sought to unlock the secrets behind this enigmatic symphony.

Through their research, they discovered that the sounds of the auroras were not a figment of the imagination, but rather a real and tangible phenomenon. This groundbreaking revelation challenged the long-standing belief that the Northern Lights were a silent spectacle.

The Source of the Sounds

The next crucial question was: Where do these sounds originate? Laine's research unveiled that the sounds were not produced within the Earth's atmosphere but rather above it, approximately 60-100 meters high. This revelation added another layer of intrigue to the auroral symphony, as the invisible source of the sounds remained hidden in the upper realms of the night sky.

The Mystery Unveiled

Under the right conditions, a special atmospheric layer can form where warm and cool streams collide, creating an invisible lid. This lid traps negatively charged particles inside while keeping positively charged particles out. When the same geomagnetic storms that generate the Northern Lights strike, this invisible lid blows, resulting in a symphony of bizarre and otherworldly sounds.

The crackling, hissing, and rumbling heard during the auroras are caused by these atmospheric phenomena. The collision of charged particles, the release of energy, and the creation of magnetic fields all contribute to the symphony that accompanies the visual spectacle of the Northern Lights.

Experiencing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Now that we know the Northern Lights speak, the next question arises: How can we experience this enchanting symphony firsthand? Fortunately, Iceland offers a multitude of Northern Lights tours that provide an opportunity to witness this celestial phenomenon and its accompanying sounds.

Gray Line Iceland, a trusted and experienced tour operator, offers a range of Northern Lights tours in Reykjavik and other prime locations. From guided bus tours to private excursions, these tours take you to the best viewing spots, away from light pollution, for an optimal experience.

Book your Northern Lights tour with Gray Line Iceland today!

The Northern Lights, with their vibrant colors and now unveiled symphony, continue to captivate and enchant all who witness them. Iceland, with its unique geographical location and pristine natural surroundings, offers an ideal setting to experience this celestial ballet and listen to the ethereal sounds of the auroras.

Thanks to the groundbreaking research of Professor Unto K. Laine and his team, the myth of the silent lights has been debunked, and the sounds of the Northern Lights have been brought to the forefront of our understanding. The discovery of the vox aurorae adds an extra layer of awe and fascination to this already extraordinary natural wonder.

So, pack your bags, embark on a Northern Lights tour in Iceland, and immerse yourself in the magic of the auroras. Let the enchanting symphony of the Northern Lights serenade you as you witness this celestial spectacle in the Land of Fire and Ice.

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