Iceland Implements Blackout for Better Northern Lights Viewing

December 5, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. blackout / ˈblækˌaʊt / (n.) – a period when all sources of light are turned off
Example: During the blackout, we had dinner under the stars.

2. phenomenon / fɪˈnɒm əˌnɒn / (n.) – an occurrence or event
Example: Scientists have been successful in studying natural phenomena like rainbows and hurricanes.

3. inhibit / ɪnˈhɪb ɪt / (v.) – to prevent or to make something difficult to achieve
Example: Bright city lights can inhibit the viewing of stars.

4. peak / pik / (v.) – to reach the highest or most important point of activity
Example: The meteor shower will peak at 1:00 a.m.

5. wilderness / ˈwɪl dər nɪs / (n.) – an area that is usually isolated, where few people live
Example: I’ve always wanted to try living in the wilderness just so I can see the sky better.


Read the text below.
The local government of Iceland’s capital requested a blackout for a better viewing of the northern lights.

The northern lights, or aurora borealis / əˈrɔr əˌbɔr iˈæl ɪs /, is a natural phenomenon wherein multicolored lights dance in the sky. In September, the government requested all citizens to turn off their lights to reduce light pollution, which is caused by excessive artificial light. Light pollution can inhibit the viewing of natural events.

The aurora’s peak season is expected to end this year. A striking show of the aurora only peaks every 11 years when the sun releases solar winds to the earth. After this year, there will be less frequent aurora displays until 2026.

The northern lights are observable only in countries closest to the North Pole because the solar winds are attracted to the earth’s magnetic field. The strong winds interact with the magnetic field, creating electricity that produces the lights.

Due to its rarity, countries like Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Finland capitalize on the northern lights for their tourism. In Canada, tourists have the option to stay in a city hotel or ride a snowmobile to a cabin in the wilderness to see the aurora. Meanwhile, Greenland has vast uninhabited lands where the conditions are ideal for viewing the lights.

Aside from these, a Norwegian town also offers a great view of the aurora, and the lights are viewable from any of its hotels. However, tourists can also opt to go aurora hunting via snowmobile or bus. Finally, Finland features hotels that sound an aurora alarm to signal guests whenever the lights are visible.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Given the chance, which country will you visit to see the northern lights? Why?
·         Would you spend money to see the northern lights? Why or why not?

Discussion B

·         What events in your country are frequented by tourists?
·         Would you like to live in a place often visited by tourists? Why or why not?

December 5, 2016