(Photograph copyright Heiko Rodde)
Northern lights in Switzerland: they are real.
I could not believe my eyes when I recently read an article about the aurora borealis. They are called "northern lights" because the colorful streaks are mostly visible in the northernmost spots on the planet, closest to the Earth's magnetic pole. But when the stars align, northern lights will pop up in lower latitudes as far south as Switzerland.
Truly, I had no idea that this natural spectacle was visible in Switzerland! I thought that this solar phenomenon was limited to the northernmost European countries.
When to see the northern lights in Switzerland?
Spring and autumn are ideal seasons to spot the northern lights in Switzerland. As such, March and September are ideal months.
There are two solar occurrences that are the basis for the creation of northern lights:
The latest year on record with lots of sightings is 2000. It has been predicted that the years 2025 to 2028 will have high solar activity, thus increasing our chances to see this phenomenon in Switzerland.
Consult the NASA Stereo website for the current state of the sun. Whenever scientists observe large CME, they will post about them on this website.
SpaceWeatherLive.com offers a global view, combining several data sources and providing predictions for northern light sightings. This website offers a short-term prediction of northern light occurrences.
This website lists the most current northern lights sightings in Germany, while this website also covers Switzerland and Austria.
And where to see them?
In Switzerland, northern light sightings are infrequent and are witnessed purely by chance. It is nearly impossible to predict their appearance, as is the case in the north.
In times of maximum solar activity, you can increase your chances by staying in a dark spot with no light pollution. Either way, you will need an unobstructed view of the northern sky.
You will know that you are watching the northern lights, as opposed to illuminated clouds, if the colors are in motion. Some patterns are isolated spots, while others are vertical beams of light.
Although not quite as magnificent as in Scandinavia or Canada, having the chance to stare at this unique phenomenon might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
In short: you have to be at the right place at the right time here in Switzerland - predictions are extremely hard to make.
Aurora Borealis Projector
- 16 kinds of lighting effects
- 360-degree adjustable angle
- Remote control
This northern lights projector is a Bluetooth speaker, sleep aid machine, and night light in one!
Photographs of northern light sightings in Switzerland
In Switzerland, one of the preeminent northern lights photographers is Heiko Rodde. Over the years, Rodde has captured numerous beautiful aurora borealis dancing above the Swiss skies.
Below are some impressive photographs by Heiko Rodde, captured in canton Aargau. Please note that all photographs are copyrighted by Heiko Rodde.
Photographer Harald Wochner took a series of pictures near Lake Constance in 2004. All photographs are copyrighted by Harald Wochner.
How to decode the colors of the northern lights
Blue, purple, red, and green: each color of the northern lights has a meaning, providing insights about the altitude at which the phenomenon occurs.
- Green: the solar particles collide with oxygen atoms at an altitude of 100 to 300 kilometers. This color is seen most often.
- Pink: sometimes, the lower part of a northern light takes on a pink color due to the presence of nitrogen molecules at an altitude of 100 kilometers.
- Red: at altitudes between 300 and 400 kilometers, collisions of solar particles with oxygen atoms produce red northern lights, most visible at our latitudes.
- Blue and purple: when hydrogen and helium molecules are excited, blue and purple northern lights appear, although they are barely visible.
I just found an article about some solar storms to come that could allow citizens of lower latitudes to see the northern lights… https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-17295337
Will they hit us this time?
It’s a good thing the storm passed by Earth this time… Did you see anything in the sky though, Sylvia?
Wow! i Hope we can somehow spot them here in Switzerland this year too!