Living in Stockholm comes with many perks. The work-life balance, outdoor activities, and equitable and modern society are just a few. One aspect people usually warn you about is the long winter. Yes, it is dark and cold for a long time. But with a few tips and tricks, it is easier to get through it. Check out this video from Claudia on how to get through Swedish Winter or this blog from Naomi. However, what people tend to forget is winter time means also northern lights and other interesting phenomena. The best part is you don’t even have to travel further north to see it but it’s right in front of your doorstep in Stockholm!
I woke up in the morning and there it was again… my friends were posting pictures of northern lights in Stockholm. This was the third time I missed them. It seemed like I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Fortunately, there was a high chance to see them again the next day. This time I didn’t want to take any chances and was ready to go all out even prepared to sacrifice my precious sleep schedule. I downloaded an app called “Aurora” that shows you all the data to see where you need to be at what time. Then I bundled up and poured hot tea into my thermos cup. As we made our way to Hagaparken with a little pier away from all the city lights, we saw the texts in the group chats that are starting now. We looked at each other and no questions asked everyone started running. And there right in front of our eyes, the waves of green and a bit of purple started crawling through the sky.
What are Northern Lights?
As a scientist of course I am always interested in how and why things happen. That’s why, even as a small child, I already read about the causes of northern lights or aurora borealis. Basically, charged particles such as electrons and protons are emitted from the sun and collide with the gases in the atmosphere. Due to our magnetic field, they get attracted to the poles hence the name northern lights or southern lights. The red color comes out when the particles react with oxygen in higher altitudes making the red color visible (300 – 400km).
Polar stratospheric clouds
One phenomenon that may be even rarer than northern lights is polar stratospheric clouds. I didn’t know they existed until they were right before me. Funny enough they happened when I least expect it. I went to Hellasgården for the sauna and ice bath and then there was this colorful rainbow cloud. I thought maybe I spent too much time in the heat but everyone else saw it as well. Apparently, they form when water vapor enters the stratosphere and the temperature is cold (-78°C). These freezing temperatures lead the water to condense. The sunlight scattering within the cloud generates rainbow colors.
I hope this blog inspires you to not give up if you haven’t seen them yet. If you have any questions or feedback feel free to comment down below or contact me through my profile!
I am Tade. I am Nigerian/German and the blogger for the Master’s Programme in Nutrition Science. Before KI, I was studying in the Netherlands. My whole life I was interested in food and sports, and that is why I decided to study nutrition. When I learned about KIs group-focused teaching and the international environment I knew where I wanted to go. When I am not exploring or trying different foods I am playing basketball in Solna. If you are ever up for the challenge, you know where to find me!