Northern lights is considered a beautiful natural phenomenon, attracting human exploration for millennia. However, it’s not easy to see the northern lights. You need to be in the right place at the right time to enjoy one of the world’s amazing phenomena. Definitely, it’s one thing that you must do in life. Through this post, I hope you will have some ideas of the best places to see northern lights in the world for your best moment.
How Northern Lights are Formed?
The aurora is actually a collision between charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere. The light is seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are called “aurora borealis” in the north and “aurora australis” in the south.
Auroras appear in many colors. Light green and pink are the 2 most popular colors. You can also see shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and purple. Besides that, light comes in many forms, from scattered patches or clouds of light to beams, arcs, ripples, or rays illuminating the sky.
The light of the aurora usually extends from 80 km to 640 km above the Earth’s surface.
The Best Time to See the Northern Lights
Researchers have found that the aurora’s activity is cyclical, peaking about every 11 years.
Autumn and winter are ideal times to hunt for the northern lights. Particularly, November to February is the peak season for aurora hunting, as the lights last the longest with clear night skies.
The Best Places to See Northern Lights in the World
The regions with high latitudes at the two poles of the earth are suitable places to observe.
Auroras appear over Finland about 200 nights a year. Here, there are many accommodation options for you to enjoy the “natural light show”. Different choices are from glass-domed beachfront villas to an aurora farm with outdoor cabins, or aboard a snowmobile driven by a sled reindeer pull through the surrounding wilderness.
Northern lights is one of the main reasons that people come to Iceland. The southern region of Iceland is less exposed to light pollution. Therefore, it creates optimal viewing conditions for the aurora during the season from August to early May.
3. Svalbard, Norway
Norway has many convenient places to watch the northern lights. Svalbard, a chain of arctic islands located between mainland Norway and the North Pole, experiences polar night, or permanent darkness.
From mid-November to February, it offers visitors a double chance of seeing the aurora borealis. Especially, it is the only inhabited place in the world where you can experience the phenomenon during the day.
4. Tromsø, Norway
Tromsø is the largest city in northern Norway and is located in the middle of the aurora, the area recorded with the highest probability of seeing the northern lights.
People also call this city the “Gateway to the Arctic”. From late August to early April, Tromsø offers visitors a variety of tours to choose including fjord tours, whale watching, and excursions to aurora viewing or scenic sled adventures.
In Scotland, the aurora borealis is called “Mirrie Dancers”. You can see them across England during the autumn and winter months as far south as Kent and England’s East Anglia.
Beautiful places to watch the aurora head to the northernmost part of the plateau or the Shetland Islands.
From the River Torne in Lapland, north of the Arctic Circle, you can explore various excursions including a sleigh safari in the wilderness and nightly excursions to see the full view. Complete the aurora in a natural setting, away from light pollution.
The Aurora Sky Station in Abisko, 900 meters above sea level, offers optimal conditions for viewing the light show every evening, from October to the end of March.
7. Yukon, Canada
From August to mid-April, the northern lights swirl in the sky above the Canadian territory of Yukon. Depending on cloud conditions, the aurora activity appears in green and yellow shades of neon.
8. Churchill, Canada
Canada is a beautiful country with many interesting things to enjoy, and there is a special attraction that every visitors love to experience. Famous as the town of polar bears, Churchill is also home to the aurora borealis with more than 300 appearances each year. Make sure you don’t miss this place to see the wonderful northern lights.
The northern lights season in Greenland runs from September to early April with plenty of perfect views for observing. The place organizes aurora excursions including a sightseeing tour of the phenomenon and an overnight stay at the Greenland Ice Sheet. Actually, this experience usually reserves for research and exploration purposes only.
10. Fairbanks, Alaska, USA
Fairbanks is located just below the active range of the northern lights. From August to the end of April, the town often appears in the sky with green, yellow, and purple light colors.
This phenomenon is most often seen between 22 p.m. and 3 a.m.
11. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania, USA
Isolated from major cities like Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Cherry Springs State Park offers exceptionally dark skies for viewing the aurora borealis.
The area is classified as an International Dark Sky Park Gold level, which is the highest designation given by the International Dark Sky Association. The park uses special lighting devices that do not obstruct the view and have strict regulations on the use of flashlights and car headlights.
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