If you are passionate about travel, it’s likely that seeing the Northern Lights is something you have on your bucket list. Also called polar lights, Aurora Polaris, Aurora Australis and Aurora Borealis, the lights are a natural phenomena that is awe-inspiring to those who are lucky enough to view them.
Where Should I Go to See the Northern Lights?
The lights are visible from any part of the world, but it is best to view them when you are closer to the north or south poles. Canada, Alaska and Antarctica are all great destinations for taking in the Northern Lights. Luckily, those who visit Barrow will likely have a great view with the town being the northern-most in Alaska. As a bonus, visitors to Barrow can also buy into the Inuit culture which say the lights are spirits of the dead playing football with the head of a walrus. Legends also warn children that the lights might come down and snatch them away!
What is the Best Time of Year to View the Northern Lights?
The Northern lights are visible year round. Though some argue that the lights fizzle during summertime, the truth is that their intensity is consistent in all seasons. And while the midnight sun may be a deterrent to seeing the lights clearly, by August there are hours of pitch blackness which provides the perfect background for the lights to be seen. Summer is also a great time to visit colder climates as the temperatures are generally more bearable during this time of year.
What Are the Northern Lights?
Get ready for a mini science lesson: The Northern lights originate on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. When this cloud reaches the earth, it collides with the Earth’s magnetic field which causes changes in the magnetic tail region. These changes generate currents of charged particles which then flow along lines of magnetic force into the polar regions. These particles are then boosted in energy within the Earth’s upper atmosphere and when they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms, they produce the dazzling lights we see. When looking at the lights, you will notice that they can appear in a variety of colors and patterns. These colors and patterns are produced from the different types of ions and atoms that are being energized as they collide with the earth. They are also affected by the lines of magnetic force. The patterns you see may cause the lights to look like rippling curtains, pulsating globs, traveling pulses or steady glows. Colors of the lights include blues, violets, reds and greens.
So this summer, instead of watching those 4th of July fireworks, go for a light show experience that will truly be unforgettable. The Northern lights are waiting…all you have to do is book that flight.