Observing the northern lights

Observing the northern lights

In northern Norway, we often see the northern lights flutter over the sky in all its pride. Do you want to know more about the northern lights?

I this activity we will learn about the shapes and colors the northern lights can have.

You will need:

A compass
A clock
Observation form (in norwegian)
Warm clothes


bildeWhen we observe, it is good to plan in advance what to do during the observation and assign tasks between the participants. We must also decide when we can observe and what we want to look for.

On the right you can see some of the main types of northern lights. In addition, there may be diffused northern lights and northern lights with spiral shape.

1. Homogenous arch
2. Arc with beam structure
3. Homogenous ribbon
4. Ribbon with beam structure
5. Crown, draperies and rays
6. Crown
7. Draperies

Observing outside

If there is northern lights, we can start the observations.

What do we see? - Note down the time, shape, color, direction of the sky and strength in the form.

Observing during several evenings

If the weather is right, try to observe the northern lights for several evenings in a row, and preferably at different times. Is there a difference?

Collaborating with others

If you know someone living elsewhere in the country, you can try to do observations at the same time. Do you see the same? Or is it different?

Work back in classrooms

Back in the classroom we can go through what we have observed.

- What did we see?
- Do you see different colors in the northern lights?
- Can you explain why the northern lights have colors?

Good luck!

Northern lights
Facts about the northern lights
Mythology and superstition
Photographing the northern lights
Solar activity and northern lights