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Rovaniemi gets Northern Lights alert system

A new service will offer clients breaking email or mobile phone updates about Northern Lights sightings in their area. The service will provide updates to subscribers only when the celestial phenomenon can be seen, nor will it throw users off the scent with unwarranted false alarms, as notifications won't be generated when conditions are cloudy.

Image: Antti Pietikäinen

Rovaniemi resident Reijo Kortesalmi is the man behind the Aurora Alert Realtime service (siirryt toiseen palveluun), which provides subscribers with up-to-date information for aurora trackers. The service is designed primarily for aurora trackers but other skygazers may also order the online updates. Lapland tour operators say they’re excited about anything that will enhance the northern travel experience.

"We get a lot of Aurora Borealis trackers in Rovaniemi and it’s absolutely wonderful that they can be offered this kind of service. I tested it myself last week with some visitors from China and it was great to be able to recommend when they could go outside for a view of the enchanting Northern Lights," said Sanna Kärkkäinen of the Rovaniemi Tourism Marketing Company.

Aurora alerts in real time

According to the developer of the service Reijo Kortesalmi, the system is based on sensors; other details are a trade secret.

"Sensors react to the Northern Lights in real time. If there’s cloud cover reducing visibility, the subscriber will only get a message when the clouds have dispersed," he explained.

Tourists who are interested in making use of the alert service should visit the Lapland tourist information centre for more information on how to subscribe. In addition to the alert system, subscribers can receive a nightly message with aurora and weather forecasts.

Lapland a prime location for Aurora hunters

According to Lapland tourism officials northern lights-spotters have a better chance of seeing the surreal light show in Lapland than in many other places. The Aurora Borealis can be seen some 200 nights of the year in Lapland – and one out of three nights in Rovaniemi.

The Finnish name for the Northern Lights – Revontulet – means "fox fire" in English and according to ancient Finnish folklore the lights are sparked by a fox sweeping the expansive fells with its tail.

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