STF Aurora Sky Station
Almost at the top of Mt. Nuolja in Abisko National Park is where you will find STF Aurora Sky Station. During the dark nights of winter, you can come here to experience the vastness of the frozen arctic landscape, see the endless starry sky, and hopefully get a glimpse of the northern lights. You are transported up by our chairlift, slowly and silently it brings you up, gliding above the treetops and the sparkling snow, towards STF Aurora Sky Station at 900 meters elevation. To stay warm during the 30-minute chairlift ride, all guests are provided with warm overalls and warm boots that are included in the price of the STF Aurora Sky Station Night Visit.
Once you reach STF Aurora Sky Station our staff will be there wating for you, eager to make this a night to remember. Inside of the station you are welcomed by a warm fire, and comfortable couches to lounge in, there is also a café and a small souvenir shop. On the outside there is a big viewing terrace with a magnificent view of the Abisko valley, lake Torneträsk and the famous Čuonjávággi, also known as Lapporten.
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What are the northern lights?
When it is dark in the Arctic and Antarctic reaches of our planet you can sometimes witness an enchanting light, often green, sometimes in hues of blue or red, on the night sky. This beautiful light is fickle and ever changing, and can appear as drapes, arches, or a faint glow. This light phenomenon, when it appears in the northern hemisphere, is known as the northern light, or Aurora Borealis if you prefer the Latin name.
Northern lights appear when charged particles from the sun hit our atmosphere at an altitude of 100-400 km. These particles are drawn towards our planet’s magnetic poles, along what is known as the auroral oval, an oval that is affected by changes in the earths magnetic field. When these charged particles come into our atmosphere, they collide with oxygen and nitrogen particles, and transfer energy to them. When the oxygen or nitrogen particles reach and excited state, they need to release this energy, and do so by shooting out photons, which is light, this is the light that we call the Aurora Borealis. The naked eye can only observe this light when the sky is dark, but this process can happen any time of the year. Here in Abisko we have a night sky that is dark enough to see the northern light from the end of August, until the end of March.
Read more and watch a video about the northern lights Abisko on our page about the northern lights.
Why should you come to Abisko to see the northern light?
In Abisko the prerequisites to see the northern lights are some of the best in the world. Abisko is located in a rain shadow created by the surrounding mountains and lake Torneträsk, which means that weather conditions for watching the sky are often optimal. This local weather phenomenon is called “the blue hole of Abisko” and you can often witness this when surrounding areas have a thick cloud cover, but Abisko has a clear sky. On top of all that, Abisko is situated under the natural position of the auroral oval, which means you do not need a high Kp-index to see the northern lights in Abisko (the higher the Kp-index, the further south the auroral oval travels).
Another thing you need to maximize you chances of seeing the Aurora, is darkness, and in Abisko the nights are very long during the winter. From the end of November, until early January, we do not see the sun at all. This means that during these months, you have many hours during which you can see the northern lights. Something else that is important is to get away from streetlights and other light pollution that make it harder to see the night sky. Abisko is a tiny town, deep in the Swedish mountains, about 100 km away from the nearest large town with a lot of light pollution. So, when you are here, all you have to do is to walk a couple of hundred meters away from the hotel to get away from all the light pollution.
In 2015, Lonely Planet named seeing the northern lights in Abisko the world’s most illuminating experience, which is something that we are very proud of.
STF Aurora Sky Station Night Visit
During the northern light season, STF Aurora Sky Stations is open every night for the Night Visit. At 9.00 p.m. the chairlift starts running to take you up to STF Aurora Sky Station, where you will be greeted by your guide and the hunt for the northern light starts. Up at STF Aurora Sky Station you will find a lookout tower, and a large viewing terrace, from which you can view the starry sky, and hopefully see the Aurora Borealis. Inside the STF Aurora Sky Station you will find a cosy café with a great atmosphere, here you can warm up by the fire and enjoy a Swedish “fika” with a warm drink and some snacks. In here you will also find a northern light exhibition, where you can learn more about the northern lights.
If you want a deeper understanding of the northern lights, and learn some old myths about them, you should join one of the northern light presentations held by the guide in the café during the evening.
It’s up to you when you want to wrap up the evening, just let the staff know when you are ready to return down with the chairlift. STF Aurora Sky Station is open until 1.00 a.m.
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Some things to think about when visiting STF Aurora Sky Station
- Dress warm! Even if you get warm overalls for the tour, we recommend that you bring warm clothes to wear under. It is always better to have to many layers, and have the option to remove some, than being cold and not having any layers to put on. You do not want to miss the aurora because you were to cold to go outside! We recommend bringing a warm hat, warm gloves/mittens, a warm base layer, and some extra warm layers on top of that. Do not let the cold ruin your experience!
- Do not rely on your phone camera for pictures! Even though phone cameras are getting better and better, and the best can now capture the northern light on a picture, you will never get a good picture with a phone camera. If you want to take good pictures of the northern lights you should bring a proper camera, where you can adjust the aperture, shutter time and ISO, and you want to pair that with a light sensitive lens. Since you will probably be using a shutter speed of 5-20 seconds, you also need a tripod for your camera, otherwise you will get blurry pictures. Remember to bring extra batteries as well, they drain quickly in the arctic temperatures.
- Avoid white light! When viewing the northern light, you want your night vision to be as good as possible. The process of getting your eyes adjusted to the darkness takes 20-30 minutes, if you are exposed to any white light, from a head torch, flashlight, or phone screen, that clock resets. However, a red light does not affect your night vision, so to ensure the best experience for yourself and other guests, do not use white lights, only red!
Experience the midnight sun at Mt. Nuolja
The 25th of May is the day when it happens, the sun does not set below the horizon and the polar day officially starts. From this day until the middle of July, the sun does not set, instead it moves horizontally along the northern horizon during the night, creating a very long “golden hour”. This means that summer in Abisko, is just one very long day.
From the day Abisko Turiststation opens for the summer, until the last day of the midnight sun, the chairlift will be open during the evening so that you can get a ride up the mountain and experience the midnight sun with an incredible view of the Abisko Alps, lake Torneträsk and Lapporten.
During the same period, we offer guided midnight sun hikes every evening. If you join this tour the guide will lead you to the top of Mt. Nuolja at 1164 meters elevation, a 2 km hike with a 264 meter elevation gain from the STF Aurora Sky Station. From the top of the mountain you get a panoramic view of the surroundings, Björkliden to the west, lake Torneträsk and if the weather allows it, the midnight sun to the north, Lapporten to the east and the Abisko Alps to the south. To celebrate this accomplishment the guide will offer some non-alcoholic bubbly and some snacks.
Shortly after midnights it is time to walk back to STF Aurora Sky Station where you will get the chance to warm up and buy some snacks, warm drinks, or souvenirs before returning down the mountain.
You decide when you want to wrap up the evening, just let our staff know when you are ready to get on the chairlift. STF Aurora Sky Station is open until 1.30 a.m. during the midnight sun season.
Visit STF Aurora Sky Station during the day
During the high season in the summer, and during the skiing season, the chairlift also runs during the day. If you want to ride up, you just buy a ticket in the valley station. There are many reasons for a visit to STF Aurora Sky Station during the day, you can go there just to enjoy the magnificent view from the terrace, to start a hiking- or skiing tour above the tree line, or just to enjoy a “fika” in the STF Aurora Sky Station café, with probably the best view in Sweden.
Between 27th of September and 17th of November Abisko is open with limited services. The reception and store is open a few hours per day, and you can reserve a room at the hostel or one of our cabins.
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