Therese van Nieuwenhoven

The Polarlightcenter explains the science behind the phenomena

Sun storms, magnetic particles and sun spots: if you want to know why the Northern Lights occur and how to forecast when they will appear, you should head for the remote little community of Laukvika in the Lofoten Islands. That’s where Rob and Therese will give you the full low-down!

The Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights – is for many a great mystery. Rob, however, goes to great lengths to provide an exact, scientific explanation of the phenomenon. While he himself uses a magnetometer to measure magnetic disturbances in the atmosphere, he also points out that you can see from an ordinary compass when the magnetism is high, for the compass needle will move. Another instrument measures the induced electrical current in the earth, which is closely connected with what is happening out in the Earth’s atmosphere.

You won’t have to wait long to see what’s happening on the sun

Rob also has instruments to observe solar explosions and flares, receiving the readings only 8.3 minutes after they occur. After that it usually takes between one and four days before the Northern Lights light up the sky above Laukvika.

You’ll be immersed in an aurora scientists lifestyle

Rob and Therese receive groups and individual visitors during both daytime and evening. Rob gives a talk on the Northern Lights, about why and how they occur, and first and foremost about how to predict when they will happen. Included in the talk are photographs of the Northern Lights and demonstrations of the instruments Rob uses.

Recieve an SMS for the rest of your holiday

One of the things that visitors particularly appreciate is Rob’s SMS text message service. Every day, until midnight, he sends out a situation report from space, so that visitors can plan their schedule. This service is provided for an entire week or for as long as visitors are in the Northern Lights zone.

Remeber your camera and if not Theresa is on hand

Therese is the photographer in the house. She specialises in taking sharp images of the Northern Lights. When they appear, she uses them as a fabulous backdrop against which to photograph visitors. Amateur photographers are given a quick introduction to capturing the Northern Lights on camera.

© Therese van Nieuwenhoven

There is an unimpeded view to the northwest

The Polarlightcenter is located in Laukvika on the north side of the Lofoten Islands. During periods of low activity there is an unimpeded view across the sea in the northwest towards the Northern Lights –and when the bow of light explodes, it can be seen rippling across the sky high above the far Lofoten mountains to the south.

The coastal climate is variable

The climate in Laukvika is a variable coastal climate, with cold, clear winter weather alternating with snow showers and rain. However, the big advantage is the temperature. The weather in the Lofoten Islands is the mildest along the entire northern “auroral oval” around the Earth, which means that you can be outside for longer without getting too cold. Camera batteries also last a lot longer. To maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights it can be a good idea to stay in the guest apartment that Rob and Therese rent out. Then you can just sit back and wait in peace and comfort…

The northern lights brought Rob from the Netherlands to Laukvika

Rob is a trained expert in technical instruments. His hobby was solar observation, and he gradually acquired a circle of friends and contacts whom he notified when there were rare sightings of the Northern Lights in the Netherlands and surrounding countries. Before long he was sending telephone alerts from the Netherlands to tourists hunting the Northern Lights in Northern Norway. When he learned that the people of Laukvika were planning to build a new youth centre in the village, and the old building was for sale, it wasn’t a difficult decision to make.

A stop at Laukvika should be your first stop on an aurora hunting holiday

There are many ways of seeing the Northern Lights. Rob, however, recommends coming to the Polarlightcenter at the beginning of your stay. The knowledge you acquire there will come in very useful when you travel further in Northern Norway. A bow of Northern Lights appearing above the sea north of Laukvika can be above the heads of viewers in Tromsø and in the southern sky seen from the North Cape, but it is the same bow. The information you gain from Laukvika is therefore well worth it.

© Therese van Nieuwenhoven

Visit Lofoten

For all the information you need about visiting the Lofoten mountain chain, including the Polar light centre, simply check out the Visit Lofoten webpage.