Got several inquiries from travelers wishing to come here to see the aurora borealis, aka northern lights. Here is my attempt to provide a comprehensive answer to the seekers of this phenomenon.
The most common question is “When do I need to travel to the Kola Pensula to see aurora borealis for sure”. First, forget the “for sure” part. The aurora is a probabilistic thing. Thus there is no clear-cut answer to this question. Generally speaking, aurora borealis can be observed at high latitudes any time there are dark nights. On the Kola Peninsula it is approximately from September to April.
A common misconception is that aurora borealis requires real cold winter weather. This photo was made in the Hibiny mountains on the 28th of September, and I’ve myself seen the aurora in the vicinity of Kandalaksha starting the end of August.
Noticed right over Kandalaksha on the night from October 19 to October 20. The photo is by the Apatity photographer Valentin Zhiganov. Our camera is not able to see such things with clarity worth sharing.
Photo made by Александр Семенов http://clione.ru/ at the White Sea Biological Station of the Moscow State University. 100km south from Kandalaksha, in September.
Its geographic location (alt. 67°09′25″) makes Kandalaksha a likely place to observe the aurora borels that’s usually seen between 67-70th parallels, close to Earth’s magnetic poles. Timing: September to March. One needs dark night, temperatures below freezing, clear sky, and an elevated level of magnetic activity. Yes, all these things together. It is mostly likely to happen in September, January, or February. The brightest auroras are said to be in spring and fall, around the equinoxes (March 20-21 and September 22-23). If you are strongly motivated to see aurora use Space Weather forecasts that reflect the strength of Sun wind. After a flash in the Sun the probability of seeing aurora in the next few days increases thrice. The Russian Space Research Institute’s site provides precise space weather forecasts. Also recommended for full and reliable information is the site of National Oceans and Atmosphere Agency (NOAA). Once you see a magnetic storm report get ready to observe aurora borealis. As a guide to aurora borealis seewww.swpc.noaa.gov/Aurora/index.html (down as of April 11 2015). There you’ll see links to space weather forecasts..