Reykjavik Swaps City Lights for Even Better Ones

Iceland's capital turns off lights for aurora borealis viewing
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 29, 2016 6:54 PM CDT
Reykjavik Swaps City Lights for Even Better Ones
Reykjavik turned its lights off Wednesday night, giving Icelanders an impressive view of the aurora borealis.   (Instagram)

The capital of an entire country went dark Wednesday night to give residents a better view of one of nature's most stunning light shows. The BBC reports Reykjavik switched off street lights in the center of the city and in various neighborhoods for better viewing of the aurora borealis, aka the northern lights. Residents were also asked to turn off their lights at home to cut down on light pollution. It appeared to work, as "stunning images" of the light show quickly filled social media, according to the New York Times. "Switching off the street lights was a great gesture by the city council," an astronomy teacher tells the BBC. "I hope this will be done more often as it was very successful."

The capital of Iceland had only planned on keeping the lights off from 10pm to 11pm, but the northern lights were late to the party, so things stayed dark until midnight. Residents were warned not to stop in the middle of darkened streets to watch the show. And NPR reports authorities asked people to drive with caution while the lights were off. The northern lights are nothing new to Reykjavik, which is located close to the Arctic circle, but they have been particularly vivid this week, as the Earth is currently getting walloped by solar wind. The aurora borealis is caused when the charged particles of the solar wind hit the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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