Witnessing the northern lights dance across the sky is a bucket-list item for many travelers, but now you can do more than just admire this natural light show. Visit Arctic Europe, an organization that promotes tourism in the area, is inviting people from around the globe to leave their mark by naming the storms that cause the northern lights.
Auroras are formed when sun storms send strong gusts of charged solar particles toward the Earth. When these particles meet with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere, they light up, and we see them as northern lights. From now on, the strongest aurora borealis will be named to distinguish one storm from another. It’s a system similar to the naming of hurricanes, which receive unique titles every year, but in this case, the general public will get the chance to participate.
“There are so many northern lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named. This way, they get their own identities and it’s easier to communicate about them,” said Rauno Posio, program director of Visit Arctic Europe, in a statement.
Naming the auroras will not only make it easier for scientists to discuss these storms, but it will also allow visitors to share their northern lights experience with others. Currently, the identities of auroras are chosen from a list of names inspired by Nordic history, culture, and heritage. Each moniker is decided by a varying system, which picks one from a list of Finnish, Swedish, and Norwegian names.
But now, you can submit your own ideas for what should be added to this list of potential names. All you have to do is go to the Naming Auroras website and explain why you believe an aurora borealis should be named after you or someone else. If luck is on your side, your suggestion may become the namesake of a strong showing of the northern lights.
All chosen names will be shared on the Naming Auroras website and on This is Arctic's Instagram page. Fans of this natural phenomenon can join the discussion by using each named aurora’s own hashtag on social media.
Jessica Poitevien is a Travel + Leisure contributor currently based in South Florida, but always on the lookout for the next adventure. Besides traveling, she loves baking, talking to strangers, and taking long walks on the beach. Follow her adventures on Instagram.
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