Photograph: Daniel J Cox/Corbis
Seeing the northern lights are on many people’s bucket list and it is a sight not to be missed. The colours gliding across the sky is something indescribable and unlike anything else. But where and how do you track down this phenomenon?
In Canada the ‘Aurora Oval’ covers the majority of the country including: the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, British Columbia, Northern Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. But what causes the light show? Electrons collide roughly 80 to 480 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The result, Auroras guided by Earth’s magnetic field forms as two ovals centered approximately at the globe’s magnetic North and South Poles.
Here are some tips for your best chances to see the Northern Lights:
- Weather conditions: The Auroras are usually best seen on cold, clear nights when there isn’t a full moon.
- What time of year is best for Northern Lights viewing: Late August to mid-April.
- What is the best time to see the Aurora: Typically becomes visible around local midnight.
- The best places in Canada to view the northern lights: Amazing map from Canadian Geographic
- Best chance during a trip: For your best chance of a viewing, stay for awhile. Book a trip between 3-7 days long at a high latitude location.
- Notifications: If you’re going on an Aurora hunt, many hotels offer wake up calls for Northern Lights viewings.
Some great resources for tracking the Northern Lights are NOAA’s Aurora – 30 Minute Forecast and NOAA’s Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard. For an easy application on your phone, check out the Aurora Forecast for iOS or Android.
Hopefully this increases your chance of seeing the Northern Light’s here in Canada.