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Aurora hunters cause traffic jam at Grótta lighthouse in Reykjavík

By Staff

  • Traffic jam at Grótta The small parking lot at the peninsula tip couldn't handle the traffic. Photo/Margrét Helga

Grótta lighthouse on the western tip of the Reykjavík peninsula is one of the most popular spots inside Reykjavík city limits to view the Northern Lights. The view of the ocean and small island of Grótta, with its picturesque lighthouse, make for a spectacular backdrop to nature's most amazing show. Grótta is also one of the most beautiful spots in Reykjavík to enjoy the sunset.

Perfect Aurora conditions 

Aurora over Vík 8.9.17
Aurora over Vík S. Iceland When it comes to the Northern Lights patience is key. Þórir Kjartansson, a local photographer, caught this photo of the Aurora over the village of Vík in S. Iceland on Friday evening. Photo/Þórir Kjartansson

On Friday evening locals and visitors alike flocked to Grótta in the hopes of witnessing the Aurora. The conditions were perfect for a great Aurora. Good weather, clear skies and powerful Northern Lights activity, due to a Mass Corona Ejection from the Sun earlier in the week which was scheduled to wash over the Earth's magnetic field on Friday. 

People had started to flock to Grótta well before nightfall, and when the sun had set all parking spots had already been taken. This did not deter people who simply parked along the road. Others parked further away and walked to the peninsula, while still others took cabs.

But the Aurora is even harder to predict than the weather!
Unfortunately the Northern Lights activity was far less powerful than the scientists had predicted. People who were willing to wait were treated to some Aurora sightings, but the magnificent show we were expecting failed to materialize. The lesson? You can't predict the Northern Lights with any accuracy!

Read more: Difficult to predict auroral activity with any accuracy

Traffic jam at Grótta

A great spot But the traffic can be a problem at Grótta. Fortunately there are other great spots for Aurora viewing! Photo/Margrét Helga

Another lesson from Friday's traffic jam at Grótta: You might want to find other spots to catch the Aurora in Reykjavík. Foreign travellers who spoke with the local news site Vísir said they had picked this spot because they had been told that due to the light pollution from the city it was "the only spot in Reykjavík where they could see the Northern Lights. This is not true.

There are plenty of great spots to view the Northern Lights inside city limits - basically any spot where you can see the sky has the potential to be a Northern Lights viewing spot!

Read more: Photos of yesterday's Aurora over downtown proves Reykjavík is the Northern Lights capital

But if you want a picturesque spot, away from streetlights or densely populated areas, there are several great spots in Reykjavík and its immediate vicinity which are perfect for Northern Lights viewing and photography. You should check out this map a local Aurora photographer and friend of Iceland Magazine Snorri Þór Tryggvason created - note that Snorri leaves Grótta out of the map!

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