Kathryn // September 25, 2018

The Best Times (And Places) To See the Northern Lights

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Seeing the Northern Lights – also known as Aurora Borealis – is a bucket-list item for many people. And no wonder: The naturally occurring phenomenon completely transforms the Arctic sky.

Fantastic shades of green and blue, and sometimes even yellows, pinks, and reds, create giant, illuminated ribbons that dance across the sky.

From late spring until the end of summer, the Northern Lights are harder to see because the sky is so light due to the sun constantly being above the horizon. When the nights start to grow longer, the opportunities for Aurora-viewing increase. 

September, when Arctic temperatures aren't yet too frigid, offers great opportunities to see the show, especially near the autumnal equinox when more solar particles interact with the atmosphere. Sure, dark skies from January until March provide the perfect setting for the lights, too, but the temperatures during this time frame can be quite inhospitable above the Arctic Circle. In addition, the snow and sea ice sets in during November and December, and atmospheric conditions can lead to clouding and more frequent obstructed views.

Spots within the Arctic Circle, at 66º North, of course have the best viewing possibilities but those living in areas with low light pollution, at 55º North or closer to the Arctic Circle can get glimpses of the beautiful sight, too. 

Near spring and autumnal equinoxes in March and September, the Earth’s magnetic field lets more solar particles interact with the atmosphere, creating true aurora seasons. During the autumnal equinox in September, when there are still pleasant temperatures in the polar latitudes, you'll find some wonderful opportunities for viewing the Northern Lights!

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