Days 178-184: walking in the dark

Several times, I’ve commented on the short days in Iceland in wintertime.  I don’t want to oversell the darkness, though: there’s a lot of twilight and the cities are well-lit.  One of the benefits of having vast amounts of essentially free electricity is that you can chase away the dark if you want.

Solfara and the tower
Solfar, the Sun Voyager, is one of many sculptures along the waterfront in Reykjavík.

The sun on the horizon casts some dramatic shadows in the midst of the golden light.  It’s all very beautiful, in a way that’s quite alien to a former desert-dweller like me.

And there are the lights overhead.  Can’t forget those.

Edge of the ocean 01
Aurora at the water’s edge in Kopavogur.

Anyway, as you probably guessed, this post was mainly about eye candy.  Hope you enjoyed it!

2 thoughts on “Days 178-184: walking in the dark

  1. Reading your blog has moved Iceland even higher on my bucket list. When are the best times to visit and see the Northern Lights? Marvin

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  2. It depends on what you want to see. The summer is very popular, because the weather is mild and there’s lots of sunlight to help you squeeze as much adventuring as possible out of every day. In June and July, there’s no night to speak of: even though the sun technically sets in the north, there’s so much twilight that it never really gets dark.

    On the other hand, the sunlight means you won’t get to see the northern lights — the aurora borealis. The lights come and go according to the whims of solar weather, and they can be hidden by the whims of terrestrial weather: if the skies are cloud covered, you’re out of luck. Seeing the aurora requires patience, flexibility in scheduling, and a fair amount of good fortune. In general, that favors visitors staying for a longer period of time. If you’re here a couple of weeks, you have more opportunities for a favorable alignment of conditions, and you probably aren’t on a tight schedule. You can drop everything and go watch the lights when they begin to shine.

    I’ve seen the aurora as early as mid-August, and as late as mid-April. Some of the best displays I’ve seen have been in September and March, when there’s still enough actual night and the weather is relatively fair. The best way to plan a vacation here, I think, is to decide what you really must see; find out if it requires being here during a specific season (for example, the puffins nest in late spring and are usually gone by the late summer or early autumn); and schedule accordingly. If the aurora is on your “must-see” list, then you should skip the summer and give yourself enough time to do some serious hunting. Good luck!

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