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Spectacular northern lights show in store, clouds limit visibility

Wednesday night and early Thursday morning the skies over Finland are projected to show off some fabulous aurora borealis. Unfortunately, cloudy skies are forecast for most of the country at the same time. People in coastal areas, the northwest and northern Lapland stand a better chance of seeing the polar light display.

Revontulia Joensuun yllä maaliskuussa 2015.
Revontulia Joensuun yllä maaliskuussa 2015. Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Solar flares on the surface of the sun Monday produced charged particles scheduled to reach the Earth Wednesday evening. The ionization of these particles as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere is expected to produce a spectacular colour show in the skies over Finland Wednesday night, but extensive cloud cover in many areas will make them difficult to see.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) says the display will be long-lasting, but modest in magnitude. In places lucky enough to not be overcast, it says, the colours in the sky will be dazzling.

“It’s possible that powerful X-class solar wind bursts will be included, which would mean some really spectacular scenes,” says Santeri Manninen of the Ursa Astronomical Association for amateur stargazers.

Yle’s resident meteorologist Matti Huutonen admits the weather is unfortunately not cooperating. 

“There’s a front of mild air blowing in from the west, increasing cloud cover in most parts of the country,” he says.

“The best places for catching a glimpse of the action are in the southwest archipelago, the Åland Islands, the northwest coastal region of Ostrobothnia and the northernmost regions of Lapland.”

People interested in aurora borealis can see English language-forecasts and check in with a series of special Northern Lights cameras placed in several locations at the FMI’s AurorasNow (siirryt toiseen palveluun) online service. Ursa’s Taivaanvahti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)website for recording observances also contains several incredible pictures, but the pages' content is only available in Finnish.

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