Northern Lights

Welcome to the city of Norhtern Lights.

Alta is a modern city of approximately 20,000 people found in a secluded and protected pine-clad valley at 70 degrees north, surrounded by arctic tundra and mountains. Found directly under the northern lights oval, Alta enjoys a stable inland climate with plenty of clear skies that allow Aurora Borealis to appear most nights. In fact, the first modern studies of the northern lights started here.

Norwegian professor Kristian Birkeland (1867–1917) was the very first scientist in the world to realize that the northern lights had something to do with the electromagnetic storms from the sun.

To discover this, Birkeland had a research station built on top of the Samis’ “sacred mountain” Haldde, at almost a thousand metres above sea level overlooking Kåfjord in Alta.

Birkeland spent the winter on the summit of Haldde with his assistants. They moved from place to place on skis, snowshoes and crampons when the conditions were icy. Ten years later, Birkeland built a more comfortable and larger observatory at the top of Mount Haldde. During the period 1912–1919, seventeen persons lived on the mountain top, seven of them were children. Although the northern lights never even grazed the summit of the mountain, Birkeland continued his research, tirelessly and with renewed perseverance.

Alta offers several Northern Lights activities.