How can I see the northern lights?

northern lights iceland

By looking up, of course! Technically, you can see the northern lights anywhere in Iceland, as long as the sky is clear enough. There are great places in Reykjavík that you can view the aurora from, but as you might expect, it’s ideal to go out into the countryside, as far away from the city lights as possible. 

You really want clear skies when hunting for the northern lights in Iceland. Because the northern lights depend on weather conditions, solar activity, and the earth’s atmosphere, seeing them isn’t always a given. You might want to read up on aurora forecasts here before you head out, which can be accessed at Icelandic Met Office’s official website.

Many tour operators offer special northern lights tours, where a bus will take you outside the city in search of this natural phenomenon. Your guide will be acquainted with the best spots and will have consulted the forecast beforehand, so this is a good bet for travellers who just want to show up with a camera and hope for the best. The northern lights being a natural phenomenon, the usual caveats apply, though many tour operators will offer another tour on the house if the “green lady” doesn’t make an appearance.

New Housing Report Shows Increase in New Apartments

architecture Kirkjusandur apartments

The latest report on housing shows that the number of new apartments has increased significantly this year, and there is still momentum in the construction industry this year.

According to data from the Housing Registry of the Housing and Construction Authority, the number of apartments under construction has remained relatively stable since the beginning of the year and is well above the historical peak, with over 7,000 units. The number of completed apartments has increased significantly in both the capital region and rural Iceland compared to the same time last year, according to the agency’s data.

Read More: 4,000 Apartments Needed to Meet Housing Demand

The number of apartments at the first stage of construction increased by 36% since last year, according to the latest Housing and Construction Authority census from March. Additionally, statistics from Statistics Iceland show that activity in the construction industry has continued to grow rapidly this year at a constant level. There are as of yet no clear signs that the number of apartments under construction has decreased, though these numbers could be affected by rising interest rates.

Despite the increase in the population, it appears that the number of residents per apartment has decreased from the years 2018-2020, hopefully indicating that construction has kept pace with population growth. The housing report states that there doesn’t seem to be a significant shortage of apartments compared to the previous decade. The report also indicates that authorities will continue to support the supply of apartments, including ongoing funding for the public housing system, as announced in June.

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New Centre for Icelandic Studies, Edda, Gets Bad Reception

Edda Centre for Icelandic Studies

Edda, the recently completed Centre for Icelandic Studies, gets no mobile phone reception is several spots throughout the building due to its distinctive copper siding.

Kristinn Jóhannesson, director of operations and technology at the University of Iceland stated to RÚV that it was an unfortunate but understandable growing pain for the new building.

Edda had been in the works for some time, only opening earlier this year to the public. Plans for the new facility, which will house Iceland’s priceless collection of medieval manuscripts, were approved in 2005. However, the banking collapse and several other setbacks delayed the project. By 2013, it was defunded by the then-sitting government, only to be taken up again in 2016, and construction properly resuming in 2019.

The new centre, which will additionally serve as a home for literary studies and Icelandic language teaching, is notable for its distinct architectural style. On the outside of the building, excerpts from medieval manuscripts are stamped on the copper façade. However, it is exactly this modern and striking design that is now causing problems for the new building, with areas throughout the building without mobile reception, according to RÚV.

Kristinn stated to RÚV that the university has received some complaints regarding the matter, but he’s hopeful a solution will be found. He also stated that the staff is still settling in to the new building, and it’s difficult to tell so far how pleased university workers and students are with the new facilities.

Classes in Edda are set to begin in the new year, and Kristinn states that several other kinks are currently being ironed out, such as lighting and settings for the heating and ventilation.

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Activists Climb Masts of Hvalur Vessels

hvalur whale demonstration reykjavík

Early this morning, two activists climbed into the masts of Hvalur 8 and Hvalur 9 to oppose the lifting of the whaling ban. As of the time of writing, they continue to occupy the masts.

One activist named Eliza occupies Hvalur 8. Vísir states that she is associated with Sea Shepherd and its founder, Paul Watson, but is here independently. The other activist, one Anahita Babaei, occupies Hvalur 9 and has previously participated in demonstrations here in Iceland against whaling with the filmmaker Micah Garen.

A special unit of police and the fire department were quick to the scene. An aerial work platform was quickly deployed and authorities spoke with Anahita, who refused to come down. According to Micah Garen in an interview with Vísir, authorities confiscated Anahita’s supplies that she had taken with her, including food and water.

Given the recent lifting of the whaling ban in Iceland, the two Havlur ships were scheduled to begin their hunting season soon. Many activists have opposed the government’s decision to allow the whale hunt again. Prominent voices have included international media figures and True North, an Icelandic film production company.

In a post on social media, Anahita provided the following statement:

“My name is Anahita Babaei and I am part of the growing group of people here in Iceland that is against whaling. We are doing what we can to stop these ships from leaving the harbor and kill up to 209 fin whales. Right now I am in the mast of Hvalur 9 where I will be staying for as long as I can to stop the ships from going out to sea. The reason why I am doing this is not to cause trouble for anyone directly apart from the owners of Hvalur hf. I understand though that my actions will affect other groups of people indirectly, and to them I would like to apologize in advance. The actions of the owners of Hvalur hf affect many people and so action against them will also do the same. If a law is unjust, one is not only right to disobey it, one is obliged to do so. #stopwhaling now.”

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