Many people believe that they should base their Northern Lights holidays around a new moon in order to increase their chances of seeing the Northern Lights. We wanted to address this issue directly and advise that it really is not the most important influencing factor for seeing the Northern Lights.
In fact our friend, the professional photographer, Chad Blakley who lives in Abisko, Sweden actually says he has taken some of his best shots during a full moon and has a lovely collection of Northern Lights photos framed by the landscape in full moon.
Some photographers prefer a full moon to be out as it lights the foreground so that a photo can be visually more interesting, allowing the lights to perform behind as if in a frame. As a team at Weekend a La Carte Aurora nights we have personally seen some fantastic Northern Lights displays during a full moon.
Obviously the sky will not be as dark during a full moon and so the contrast is not as great but it tends to make the sky appear a dark indigo blue and, if the landscape is lit by the moon as well it can sometimes appear to be daylight with the Northern Lights at full blaze! We have many lovely photographs of the full moon beside fantastic Northern Lights displays.
However much more important is how much cloud cover there is. Even if the Northern Lights are out, but it is overcast, you are unlikely to see them so cloud cover is indeed the deciding factor, much more so than the full moon.
It is also important to get away from artificial light as this distracts heavily from your Northern Lights viewing experience. Our Northern Lights holidays focus on basing you in rural areas away from artificial light pollution so that you can give yourself the best chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis. Indeed many of our country retreats such as Hotel Ranga in Iceland turn off their outside lights in order to achieve the best possible viewing conditions on your Northern Lights trip if the Aurora Borealis is out.