Photo: Nicolas J Leclercq/ Unsplash
If you haven’t had the chance to admire the natural light show in a Nordic country yet, chances are you’ve spent a good deal of time staring at them as a desktop screensaver. But now, you can do more than just be an admirer and tick it off your bucket list—Visit Arctic Europe, an organisation that promotes tourism in Finland, Norway and Sweden, is inviting people from around the world to name the storms that cause the Northern Lights.
The process is rather similar to that of naming hurricanes, except that you do not need to be part of the international committee established by the World Meteorological Organisation. All you need is the internet and WiFi.
At present, the auroras are monikered from names inspired by Nordic culture, history and heritage. But now, anyone can log on to the Naming Auroras website to pitch ideas and justify why they think a storm should be named after them or their suggestion. A name approved will be featured on the Naming Auroras website as well as This is Arctic’s Instagram page.
The Northern Lights, scientifically known as auroras or Aurora Borealis, are formed when sun storms resulting in solar wind meet the earth’s magnetic field. This wind gets trapped in ring-shaped holding areas that vary in shape, size and colour. Henceforth, the strongest Aurora Borealis will be named to make it easier for scientists to distinguish each storm and also allow astronomy enthusiasts to do more than just admire the natural phenomenon.
“There are so many Northern Lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named,” said Rauno Posio, program director of Visit Arctic Europe. “This way, they get their own identities and it’s easier to communicate about them.”