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See Your Name in Lights! Aurora Borealis Displays to Be Named & Public Invited to Contribute

A collaboration between the Space Weather Prediction Centre and Visit Arctic Europe will see a new naming protocol applied to Auroras in arctic Europe, like the way hurricanes and other storms are named.

Image of Northern Lights

Image courtesy of The Aurora Zone

November 16th, 2020 - The USA based Space Weather Prediction Centre provides real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events. It uses technology that analyses the sun’s X-ray activity to predict the timing of the potentially strongest and most visually impressive auroras that usually follow a day or two later.

Regional tourism promotion agency Visit Arctic Europe will then choose a name for that specific aurora borealis activity and publish it on their website and Instagram account. Visit Arctic Europe will select the new name from a pre-determined list of names that have been derived from the region’s history, culture, and mythology.

“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,”

Rauno Posio, program director of Visit Arctic Europe, in a statement.

An aurora, often referred to as polar lights, northern lights, or southern lights, is a natural light display seen in the high-latitude regions around the Arctic and Antarctic.

Auroras are the result of disturbances in the magnetosphere caused by solar winds. These disturbances are sometimes strong enough to alter the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma. These particles, mainly electrons and protons, precipitate into the upper atmosphere and create spectacular light shows.

Auroras occur in the arctic region on more than 200 days a year, however, many are not visible to the human eye due to bad weather or because they occur in daytime.

Jesse Ketonen, communications manager for Visit Arctic Europe, explained in a recent Lonely Planet article that the aurora is culturally significant to the Nordic and Arctic regions. For example, Norse mythology links the Northern Lights to the dawn of creation and Vikings believed the northern lights were the souls of fighting warriors. Ketonen goes on to explain that the idea behind the naming of Auroras is to make them more memorable and to allow the local community to share their experience around the world.

The Aurora Borealis over Norway

© Ragnar Th. Siggurdsson, Arctic Images & Visit Reykjavik

As part of this initiative, Visit Arctic Europe is offering the public the opportunity to submit their own ideas for potential new Aurora names via the new Naming Auroras website. Users can suggest a name and then provide an explain as to why they believe that the name should be used for a future aurora borealis event.

All chosen names will be shared on the Naming Auroras website and on This is Arctic's Instagram page. Each named aurora will be given its own hashtag to facilitate group conversations on social media channels.

Visit Arctic Europe is a cross-border collaboration between regional tourism organisations (Finnish Lapland Tourist Board, Swedish Lapland Visitors Board and Northern Norway Tourist Board) as well as destinations and resellers in the travel industry. The main objective of Visit Arctic Europe is to develop Finnish Lapland, Swedish Lapland and Northern Norway as a full-year, sustainable and high-quality tourism destination.

About The Author

Mark Scriven - Guest Contributor

Mark is a guest contributor to He has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years and has written hundreds of blog articles and news stories over that time. Mark is a graduate of Oxford Brookes University.

Contact by email.


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