Seeing the Northern Lights in North America

by Anne Flannery

Dec 12, 2018

Northern Lights © Erectus |

Tips / Destination

The Northern Lights are elusive, but, with that said, people who have seen them can’t stop talking about them. They are a phenomenon of the Northern Hemisphere, obviously, but also have a counterpart in the Southern Hemisphere. Also known as the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights happen when a solar wind blows through the magnetosphere, disturbing it to such an extent the ionization of the atmosphere results in a variety of light in ethereal shades of blues, greens, purples and reds.

The more northerly you are, the better your chances for catching these natural displays. Of course, if you don’t live in the northern reaches of Canada, getting to the Aurora in time is the challenge. The Northern Lights don’t last a long time and can come on suddenly, because they are, after all, the result of a solar storm of sorts.

There are, however, times and places more ideal than others. If you are above the 55-degree latitude and in a place with low light pollution, you are positioning yourself well. The best time of year is around the spring or autumn equinox, according to National Geographic.

So stay away from cities and book a Sept. 21 weekend in Canada if the Aurora Borealis is on your radar. You can also check the Aurora Forecast here whenever you want.



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