The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is a natural phenomenon that leaves spectators in awe with its mesmerizing display of colorful lights dancing across the night sky. For many, witnessing this beautiful sight is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
However, it is often challenging to know when and where you can see it. Factors such as weather conditions, geographical location, and time of year can significantly impact the visibility and intensity of the lights. Thankfully this article is here to explore the best times and places to see the Northern Lights, giving you a better chance of experiencing this magical natural wonder in all its glory.
What Causes The Northern Lights?
The enchanting display of the Northern Lights has captivated people for centuries. But have you ever wondered what causes this breathtaking phenomenon? The answer lies in the collision of charged particles from the sun with the planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere. These charged particles, also known as plasma, interact with the gasses in the atmosphere, such as oxygen and nitrogen, and create colorful lights in the sky.
The different colors you see are a result of the specific gas particles that are being excited by the plasma. The Northern Lights are not only a beautiful sight but also a reminder of the incredible power and complexity of the planet’s natural processes.
The Best Times And Places To See The Northern Lights
Although this occurrence can happen anywhere on Earth, there are a few unique locations that have a high likelihood of witnessing the dazzling display of the Northern Lights. Below you will get a look at some of these destinations and when the best time of year to see the lights is:
Nestled in the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. This charming Norwegian city boasts an ideal location for an unforgettable northern light experience. Be dazzled as the sky transforms into a vibrant display of blues, greens, and pinks. The best time to see the northern lights in Tromsø is from late September until early April.
But beware – this is also the colder season, so bundling up and preparing for chilly temperatures is essential. With a vast array of activities, from dog sledding to snowshoeing, Tromsø is truly a winter wonderland. There really is no better place to witness the majesty of the aurora borealis.
Another great destination for northern lights viewing is Fairbanks, Alaska. Located in the state’s interior, this small city offers a unique opportunity to see the aurora borealis in all its glory. The best time for viewing the northern lights here is from mid-August until late April – although you can still get lucky and spot them outside of this time frame.
The lights are often most visible in the dark winter months, and Fairbanks offers a unique setting for optimal viewing with its wide-open skies and minimal light pollution. Whether you’re looking for an adventure or just to take in the beauty of nature, Fairbanks is sure to delight.
Yukon, Canada, is truly a magical place when it comes to viewing the northern lights. Unlike many other areas, the skies are almost always clear, providing optimal conditions for spotting the Aurora Borealis in all its glory. The ideal time to witness this natural wonder is from August to April, with peak viewing months being December and January.
Visitors to Yukon are in for a treat as they gaze up at the multitude of colors dancing across the sky, leaving them breathless and in awe. The vast wilderness and unspoiled landscapes surrounding Yukon only add to the enchantment of the northern lights experience. Don’t miss your chance to witness one of nature’s most breathtaking displays in this stunning Canadian territory.
Situated on the Torne River and located 125 miles above the Arctic Circle, the village of Jukkasjärvi is surrounded by the pristine natural beauty that makes for an unforgettable aurora viewing experience. The best time to visit Jukkasjärvi for this purpose is between early September and late March. What’s more, visitors can explore the history of the village, with some of the original homesteads dating back to the 17th century.
Among them, an old timber cottage stands frozen in time, a testament to the village’s rich cultural heritage. For those interested in witnessing one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural phenomena, Jukkasjärvi is an ideal destination.
Mackinaw City, Michigan
Mackinaw City, Michigan, is an exceptional place to witness this natural phenomenon with Headlands International Dark Sky Park. This park is a prime viewing spot for the aurora, making it one of the top locations in the U.S. to see this awe-inspiring spectacle. Although the northern lights are unpredictable, the optimal times for viewing are the spring and fall, with the best chance of seeing them after midnight while facing north.
To help visitors plan their trip, the park maintains an online Clear Sky Chart that provides a weather forecast for stargazers. Aside from the northern lights, Headlands offers other magnificent opportunities for stargazing year-round, making it a remarkable place to experience the night sky.
Nellim, Finland, is truly a gem when it comes to seeing the northern lights. With its remote location close to the Russian border, there is little to no light pollution, making it one of the best spots to witness the natural wonder. The best time to visit is between December and March, when the skies are darkest, and the aurora is at its brightest.
And for those looking for more than just a light show, the Nellim Wilderness Hotel provides exceptional lodging year-round and plenty of activities to keep guests entertained. From aurora-chasing tours by car or snowmobile to snowshoeing under the night sky, Nellim is the ultimate destination for those seeking a once-in-a-lifetime northern lights experience.
Last but not least is Aberdeen, Scotland. With its northern location, the city boasts clear skies and starry nights, offering a great chance to catch a glimpse of the aurora on most winter nights. But what sets Aberdeen apart from other places is its accessibility. Located just five miles from the city, a visit to Slains Castle Viewpoint is well worth it for a chance to see the northern lights in all their glory.
Beyond the vibrant colors and hypnotic movements of the aurora, the stunning landscapes of Aberdeen are also breathtaking. So, immerse yourself in Scotland’s natural beauty and make a trip to Aberdeen to witness the Northern Lights for yourself.
Plan Your Trip To The Best Places To See The Northern Lights!
Witnessing the aurora borealis is a magical experience that no words can truly describe. Whether you’re standing in awe of its colorful display in Yukon, exploring its history in Jukkasjärvi, enjoying the night sky from Mackinaw City, or taking in the views from Nellim and Aberdeen, these are some of the best places to see the northern lights! So if you’re looking for an unforgettable outdoor adventure, start planning your trip to one of these prime destinations and get ready to marvel at the beauty of nature.