Sep/Oct 2018 Current Moscow Time: 12:10:48
26 September 2018

  The world’s biggest country, in a magazine. Since 1956.

Hunting the Northern Lights

Author: Nadezhda Grebennikova
Translation: Paul E. Richardson
Illustrations/Images by Mikhail Mordasov

Mar/Apr 2017
Page 38   ( 8 pages)

Summary: The northwestern tip of Russia is one of the finest places from which to view the elusive Northern Lights. If you can handle the cold, the dark, and the visiting Muscovites.


In our region, we really don’t have to exert ourselves much if we want to see the Northern Lights. They can be seen while sitting at home, by just casting a casual glance out the window. And, it’s really not something people get themselves worked up about around here. It’s not a big deal. I imagine that people who live in a verdant tropical jungle probably don’t get very excited about the rare plants blooming all around them, either.

I should explain.

We live at the furthest edge of the inhabited world. If you take out a map of Russia and look in the top left corner, you will find the Kola Peninsula. Can you picture where Anchorage, Alaska is on the map? Now you’ve got the general idea, except Murmansk is in the Eastern hemisphere and 500 miles closer to the North Pole. And this is why for six months each year it is dark, cold, and you can easily see the Northern Lights.

In point of fact, our region has been flooded by tourists hunting the Northern Lights. And if we want to establish blame for this, it could probably be shared by Canon, Nikon, NASA, American politicians, and, in some small measure, Valentin Zhiganov of Apatity, Murmansk Oblast.

Valentin phoned at exactly the right time: on January 3. This is the point in the annual life cycle of every Russian when all the New Year’s salads have been consumed, every friend and relative has been visited, and people begin to wonder what else they can come up with to fill seven more holiday days.

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