Norway’s Elusive ‘Hessdalen Lights’!

For decades now, the Norwegian municipality of Holtålen has experienced strange shapes of light dancing across the night sky. Called the “Hessdalen Lights,” no definitive explanation has been offered as to why they occur.

If there’s one thing the internet likes, it’s a good unexplained mystery. If you search around for videos of the Hessdalen Lights Phenomena, (HLP) you’ll inevitably find yourself in the backwaters of YouTube, among videos of purported UFOs, telling you all kinds of things you “probably shouldn’t know about!” (Because yes, Youtube is totally the last place where the oppressive secret NWO scientific majority would look for opposition! Ahem.)

What sets the Hessdalen lights apart, though, is that it’s not an isolated sighting that could easily be hoaxed. There’s a Hessdalen Project, which organises an annual science camp, during which students can take observations and work out their own theories. And according to their project director, the phenomenon has been sighted on each of the camps they organised.

So, are we on the cusp of a Norwegian-themed alien invasion? Should we all start emailing Duolingo to hurry up and add Norse as a learnable language for when the space-Vikings come to exact their vengeance upon the Earth? Is Norway the largest importer of Tesla cars because of humanity’s first interstellar export deal?

Sadly, we suspect the actual explanation will be a lot more down to Earth. (No pun intended.)

Research into the phenomenon has been ongoing for some years. In 1998, the Hessdalen Project set up an observation station to capture as much data about the lights as possible.

“It was filled with an astonishing array of technical gear. It included a number of optical cameras, but also magnetometers, weather gear, and equipment for measuring low frequency electromagnetic radiation.”

Aiming to leave no stone unturned, there is even a random number generator present, which by some leap of logic is intended to measure whether the Hessdalen Lights are “some sort of psychic event.” (Alright, we’re not judging, but maybe that’s indicative of a few things. Regardless.)

“What the automated station found is that the lights usually appear in the sky between 9pm and 1am, and more often in the winter.”

Unfortunately, after exploring several avenues including weather phenomena, interactions within the ionosphere and even “mini black holes”, the research team wasn’t able to come up with a scientifically supported explanation for the phenomenon.
One of the researchers, Massimo Teodorani, arrived at a theory involving piezoelectric activity in the Earth resulting in balls of plasma forming above the ground. Brian Dunning at Skeptoid has a number of issues with this explanation:

“What Teodorani did was not to look for the source of the lights that were observed; it was, in contrast, an effort that started from the assumption that some unique geophysical process was producing balls of light that floated up out of the ground. He then came up with some hypotheses about how he thinks this might be accomplished. Starting with an explanation, and working backwards to try and match the observations, is the opposite of the way good science should be done.”

Dunning, not finished taking us by the shoulder and giving us a good scientific shake, continues to point out that similar phenomena the world over have been explained as simple thermal lensing effects distorting the light from perfectly ordinary, and entirely man-made light sources, like train locomotives aimed at just the right angle.

It’s true that no such explanation has yet been offered for the Hessdalen Lights, but you have to wonder if the excitement of seeing unidentified lights in the sky nudges the people involved to look for more exotic explanations than perhaps is warranted. Maybe we like thinking a little too far outside of the box from time to time.

Skeptoid’s full treatment of the topic may be found here: (Also available as a podcast.)
A Reddit AMA with Erling Strand, project manager with the Hessdalen Project can be found here:

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).