Where/When to see the Northern Lights
April 13, 2006 12:25 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to get a good time/date approximation as to when I can see the Northern Lights. Any experts with the Aurora Borealis?

I've heard mid-Alaska and from December to March. But if I go, I'd like to be sure that I'll see it, knowing, though, that there's randomness. Correct?

Also, if I wanted to plan a trip to include seeing the Lights what else could I do? say if any of you suggest going to Fairbanks or any of the surrounding areas. Places to stay, other nature spots (I know there are a ton in alaska), all within relative close promixity to each other so I don't have to trek throughout the state.
posted by jadanzzy to Science & Nature (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
late fall to early spring. Around Fairbanks 5-10 x a month
posted by edgeways at 12:46 PM on April 13, 2006

Lots of aurora forecasts online, many with historical data.
posted by mendel at 1:58 PM on April 13, 2006

Spaceweather.com is your friend. You can even sign up for their telephone alert system.
posted by daveleck at 2:08 PM on April 13, 2006

Aurorachasers will hook you up with plenty of info and email alerts.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 3:21 PM on April 13, 2006

adec.org will email you. They do well, though they're a little too touchy for me. Like, I get annoyed when they send me alerts based on current conditions, then ten minutes later the conditions have changed...
posted by klangklangston at 4:39 PM on April 13, 2006

It needs to be clear too, fall and early winter can be mighty rainy and cloudy in AK. Feburary is a good time and there are pretty well known spots along the Parks Highway that tend to be less cloudy.
posted by fshgrl at 6:22 PM on April 13, 2006

We are pretty much at solar minimum right now. The sun has an 11 year cycle of activity and high solar activity produces auroras. But there's still some activity. In 5 years, there's better odds.

Because my aurora karma sucks, there is an extremely strong positive correlation between aurora borealis and solid cloud cover in Maine.
posted by theora55 at 7:39 PM on April 13, 2006

Has anyone else heard that the next solar max is supposed to be incredibly strong? Like, greater than any of recent recorded history in terms of quantity of sunspots and strength of ejections?`
posted by UnclePlayground at 7:50 AM on April 14, 2006

The strength of a solar maximum isn't particularly predictable, except that it's when our sun is most active, and tends to spew out the most particles -- storms of which usually result in the light shows.

I've read that the equinoxes tend to be better times to see the "northern lights".

Where you are makes a difference, too. Higher latitudes also have a better chance of seeing them, as the earth's magnetic field is tipped in such a way to allow this area to see the lights.
posted by catkins at 9:10 AM on April 14, 2006

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