Stargazing and Northern Lights in the Jyväskylä Region

Did you know that the Jyväskylä Region is also a great place to see the colourful Northern Lights and the bright starry sky? So look upwards, gaze at the stars, and marvel at the blaze of the Northern Lights in Finland, in the Jyväskylä Region.

After the end of August, as days grow shorter and evenings darker, the Jyväskylä Region in Finland is a good place to look up at the beautiful, starry sky. The Northern Lights can also be seen roughly once every four nights. The Jyväskylä Region is particularly ideal for gazing at the sky, because one of the darkest regions in the southern half of Finland is in the Jyväskylä Region, in Hankasalmi. Hankasalmi has served as a global hub of Northern Lights and stellar research.

In the Jyväskylä Region, the local astronomical society, Sirius ry, offers an opportunity for a guided tour of the skies. Stargazing events take place by appointment at the Hankasalmi, Nyrölä, and Rihlaperä observatories.

Gazing at the Northern Lights and other luminous phenomena in the sky does not necessarily require professional equipment, just time, enthusiasm, and some warm clothing. Tero Riihinen, a Jyväskylä nature photographer and active Northern Lights watcher and stargazer, has been fascinated by the skies since he was a child.

“Your mind comes to a rest looking at the Northern Lights and the stars. That is when you really notice how small we are here on this Earth.”

Tero Riihinen, nature photographer

Tero Riihinen has a lot of tips to give for would-be stargazers and Northern Lights watchers. There are, naturally, a great many things to take in to account, but fundamentally, looking at the lights in the skies is a simple hobby fit for absolutely everyone. Check out the five tips below to spend an unforgettable evening gazing at the stars and the Northern Lights!

Northern Lights in the sky above a lake
Photo: Tero Riihinen

1. Choose the right time of the year

The best time to see the Northern Lights and stargaze in the Jyväskylä region is from the end of August until March, when the northern horizon is no longer receiving sunlight.

2. Get out of the city lights

When stargazing or looking for the Northern Lights, it’s important to seek a dark place as far as possible from city lights and other light pollution. The recommended distance from urban lighting is about 15 to 20 kilometres.

3. Choose the right location

Both the Northern Lights and stargazing require a good, wide view of the bright northern sky. Some good spots include lakeshores, fields, and tall hills. Such spots in the Jyväskylä Region include, for example, Kirkkoniemi in Laukaa, Mämminniemi in Toivakka, and the Kirveslampi marsh area in the Leivonmäki national park . 

4. Do your homework

In order to prevent a cloudy night from obscuring the sky, you should pay attention to the prevailing weather well beforehand. You can monitor the probable visibility and brightness of the Northern Lights with the help of the Finnish Meteorological Institute’s website’s Space Weather section. With high geomagnetic disturbance values, it is more likely you might be able to see the Northern Lights with the naked eye. In the Hankasalmi observatory, there is also a remotely operated stellar camera, which can be watched in real time 24 hours a day, allowing you to stargaze and see the Northern Lights from your own home. 

5. Remember that patience is rewarded

Seeing the Northern Lights requires patience. The bursts are often very short in duration – sometimes merely a minute all night. But sometimes the Northern Lights may blaze across the sky for several hours. But on a bright sky, you can see stars nearly every night; so dress warm, head out to identify the constellations, and you may notice you are also witness to the dance of the Northern Lights. 

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