Finnair pilot flies off course to show passengers Northern Lights

Some people in Southern Finland caught a glimpse of the aurora borealis phenomenon. (Jussi Lindroos/Yle)

Strong solar winds have offered opportunities to see the colourful display in places as far south as Helsinki this week.

Passengers on a Finnair flight from Kuusamo to Helsinki on Sunday evening were given an unusual show by the plane’s captain, who deviated from the designated route to give everyone on board the chance to see the magnificent display of Northern Lights.

According to flight tracking service Flightradar24, the plane made a 360-degree turn over northern Kajaani, in central Finland, so all passengers could see the glowing green cloud-like auora borealis spectacle.

Some of the passengers took their gratitude to Twitter, and commended the pilot for the impromptu act:

The incident was quickly picked up by the media, with tabloid Iltalehti (siirryt toiseen palveluun)among the first to do so.

Good chance of seeing Northern Lights in next few days

A strong solar wind gust this week has made it possible to see the aurora borealis phenomenon across the country, even as far south as Helsinki.

Solar winds are streams of charged particles, mostly electrons and protons, flowing from the sun. The higher the solar wind’s speed, the more intense the northern lights’ display will be.

The Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI) has advised those keen to see the Northern Lights to go as far away from cities’ ambient light as possible and find a spot with an open view of the sky that ideally faces north.

FMI researcher Tiera Laitinen told Yle that generally, the best time to spot the colourful display is around midnight.

“This time the solar wind is stronger than usual and with some good luck, you could see them even sooner,” she added.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: What are the northern lights?, CBC News

Greenland: Evidence of powerful solar storm which occurred 2,600 years ago found in Greenland ice, CBC News

Norway: NASA and Norway to develop observation station in Arctic, The Independent Barents Observer

Yle News

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