top of page
Sledding6.JPG

Winter

 The Season for Northern Lights, Husky Sledding Tours, Snow Activities and Fun in the Sun

Aurora over Korvala log cabins.jpg

Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis

Northern lights, or aurora borealis, can be seen easily from the garden or lake directly in front of the cabins. Aurora start in autumn and continue through winter until spring, being stronger around the equinoxes. Since we are located in the middle of the wilderness, by a large open space and far from city light pollution, the views are incredible. The picture above shows all of our buildings and the aurora, photographed from our lake - the cabin lights are obviously not strong enough to obstruct the light from the aurora.

 

The aurora come and go during the night and sometimes they only last for a few minutes, so when the forecast is good, it's best to be outside as soon as it starts getting dark, as long as the sky is clear. There are many apps with aurora activity forecasts that are free to download, and because the aurora can be seen from our garden, it's not necessary to book an aurora tour elsewhere. The apps use data from satellites and since they use a real-time feed, they give accurate predictions for the next 15-60 minutes.

See below for help in reading the forecast.

The aurora often form arcs from horizon to horizon and sometimes the arcs begin to twist and sway like curtains in the wind, occasionally expanding to fill the whole sky. The aurora can also take on a more cloud-like appearance, but if you are lucky, they can be seen moving fast and shining very brightly. They are more common around midnight, but can actually appear at any time during the evening and will fade away before sunrise.

The aurora are determined by the activity on the sun. Space is filled with a constant stream of plasma from the sun called the solar wind. The magnetic field surrounding our planet makes sure we are protected from the solar wind. It carries charged particles from the sun, called electrons, which accelerate up to 20,000 km/second along the Earth's magnectic field lines and collide there with the oxygen and nitrogen atoms that make up our atmosphere, at an altitude of over 100 kilometers. The electrons are able to reach our atmosphere where the magnetic field lines converge around the magnetic poles of our planet. When this happens, the atoms in our atmosphere temporarily get a boost of energy. This energy causes them to release photons, which we see as light. Energised oxygen atoms produce green and red light, while nitrogen atoms produce blue and purple light. The light is emited when the atoms calm down and this makes the aurora that we see in the night sky.

 

There are a number of things to look out for in an aurora forecast:

  • First, the KP index, which is a measure of magnetic activity, where 1 = very little magnetic activity, 5 = high activity and signifies a minor magnetic storm and 9 = a very powerful magnetic storm. Our coordinates are 66°53’53”N and 26°12’0”E so we are in the KP 3 zone, which means aurora can be see overhead and in the northern sky when the KP index is 3 or over. Since a higher KP signifies more magnetic activity it also means a better chance of seeing aurora further south.

  • Secondly, the speed of the solar wind, which is measured in kilometers per second (km/s) and is normally around 300-500 km/s. However, when there is a hole on the sun's surface, called a coronal hole, the solar wind escapes at a higher speed. The higher the speed, the harder the particles hit the Earth’s magnetosphere, increasing the chances of strong and colourful aurora. Speeds can reach up to 750-900 km/s.

  • Thirdly, the particle density, which indicates the amount of particles coming from the sun. This value is usually given in cubic centimeters (p/cc or p/cm³). When there's a solar flare or an explosion on the sun, called a coronal mass ejection (CME), large amounts of charged particles are expelled into space and are carried along in a solar wind shock wave. The more particles in the solar wind, the more chances we get for an auroral display, as more particles collide with Earth’s magnetosphere. Again, the higher the better, so 20 is good and 40 is high, and a value of 100 is extremely high.

  • Finally, both the Bz and the Bt values are important measures for auroral activity. During periods of minimum solar activity, the sun only exhibits a dipole magnetic field similar to that of our planet. However, when the sun is more active, additional magnetic fields arch between sunspots on the east-west axis. The state of these magnetic fields (their strength and north-south polarity) is locked into the solar wind as it sets off into our solar system as the interplanetary magnetic field (IMF). The Bz value gives the north-south direction of this magnetic field: a negative Bz value, such as -10 nano-Tesla (n-T), indicates that solar particles will mostly impact the Earth's magnetosphere in northern latitudes, while a positive value indicates that they are more likely to occur in southern latitudes. The Bt value, on the other hand, gives the strength of the IMF: a Bt value of at least 10 nT indicates a mild goemagnetic storm, while 30 nT is a very intense storm. The stronger the IMF, the greater the magnetism, so more aurora!

For more science and an aurora tutorial, go to the space weather prediction centre at NOAA

IMG_1169.JPG

Husky Tours

During this unique sledding experience we'll teach you how to drive your own team of dogs in small groups of six participants and two guides.

 

We start by getting winter overalls and boots for anybody needing them. Then after the driving lesson we set off with our lively Siberian huskies through the silent forest, following the guide's team, with no snowmobiles spoiling the magic. Participants travel in pairs, so couples can take turns to drive the sled and ride in it, and for families, parents drive the sled, while their children are tucked up warmly in the sled. After the run, you can cuddle the dogs and take photos before we go for a kennel tour, where we tell you all about our dogs. We finish off with a warm drink and cookies in our old, traditional house.

Our husky tours need a minimum of 10cm of packed down snow on the trails to operate and must to be booked via the button below:

Free Activities

Cross-country skis, snowshoes, ice-skates and ice-fishing equipment are included in the price of accomodation, so are free to use on site whenever you want. We cut cross country ski tracks in spring-winter according to our guests requirements, within reason, and they are maintained as necessary.

 

Cross-country skiing and snowshoe trekking are a great way to explore the many aspects of our surrounding wilderness. However, our routes can also be hiked in normal winter boots and will take you into the forest where you can experience the rare beauty of our natural landscape. There is a map showing our colour-coded trails in our equipment room which can be photographed, and it's always a good idea to make sure you phone is fully charged and that you have a power bank with you when to go out exploring.

IMG_2821_edited.jpg

Snow and Ice

Our winter usually lasts for seven to eight months. Sometimes, we have good winter snow conditions as early as October, but sometimes the snow doesn't arrive until the end of November. Nearly all of our winter activities require snow of varying depths. While it is possible to ski with a little snow, the husky tours require a lot more in order for it to be safe!

 

As conditions can change daily, early season programme availability is hard to predict for November and early December. Likewise, towards the end of the season, snow conditions can deteriorate in late April or continue well into May. If travelling early or late season, please check the snow situation with us before booking to avoid disappointment.

Temperatures range from 0°C to -40°C, and occasionally, it may be a couple of degrees colder or warmer. However, our winter temperatures are most often between -10°C and -20°C.

Winter clothing advice can ce found here.

Snowmobiles, Reindeer and Horse Sleigh Rides

Alternatively, the wilderness can be explored with iron dogs! We no longer arrange snowmobile tours on site, but they can be booked through Visit Rovaniemi's website or the Pyhä National Park and Luosto resort websites. The tours include winter overalls, boots, balaclavas, helmets, and of course, a driving lesson. After that, you set off with the snowmobiles following the guide.

For those interested in going for an authentic reindeer sleigh ride or experiencing real jingle bells whilst riding in a one horse open sleigh, we recommend going to Jaakkola reindeer farm and Luostola horse farm, which are both situated near Luosto about 60 km away to the north.

Snowmobiling_edited.jpg
bottom of page