I live in Toronto. I want to see the Northern Lights tonight. Cheap.
August 3, 2022 5:10 AM   Subscribe

I understand there will be a magnetic storm tonight. I (and my elderly relatives and my 5 year old son) wish to see the northern lights. I understand they will be this far south tonight, but light pollution and...thunderstorms...is there anywhere I can drive within say 3 hours of Toronto check into a motel for one night and see the northern lights and drive home tomorrow?

So we're looking for a motel with little light in a place where it will be clear tonight within a certain radius of Toronto. Hope me!
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Travel & Transportation around Ontario (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I’m not sure seeing them is realistic - the Alaska tracker isn’t showing any close to Toronto, unlike a week ago? Did you catch an old article? - but I’d aim for maybe Tweed or Madoc.
posted by warriorqueen at 5:41 AM on August 3, 2022

Best answer: Near Gravenhurst is the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky preserve and it's about a 2 hour drive. If the Northern Lights will be visible and there isn't any cloud cover you'd be good there. Should have hotels in Gravenhurst as well. During popular "events" like the Perseids it's a bit of a shitshow with the amount of people partying (thank you BlogTO) but otherwise it's fine. You used to be able to camp there too but they may have stopped that because of the party people.

In a similar vein there's also the Lennox Addington dark sky viewing area out by Napanee. That's a bit quieter and the drive clocks in at around 2 and a half hours. There would be hotels in Napanee near the 401 for sure.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 6:53 AM on August 3, 2022 [5 favorites]

Best answer: This light pollution map should give you a good idea. In off rush hour traffic, the drive to Lake Simcoe from central Toronto is a little less than an hour. I've seen excellent views of the Milky Way in the yellow/green areas of the map, so personally wouldn’t bother travelling further. Either drive home or stay in Newmarket overnight.
posted by brachiopod at 7:35 AM on August 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This map with cloud cover predictions might also help - it's not super easy to use, but you can overlay it the light pollution map. It does look like a large chunk of Ontario is going to be socked in by clouds after midnight, though, and I'm not sure how much earlier than midnight it gets properly dark (I think "astronomical dusk" is the time you're interested in, and it's around 10:30 tonight in Toronto).
posted by mskyle at 8:36 AM on August 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I keep fairly close tabs on space weather and nothing I'm seeing indicates much chance of aurora being visible in southern Ontario tonight regardless of cloud conditions or lack of light pollution. Things are relatively quiet right now in terms of geomagnetic activity and nothing significant is forecast for the next couple of days. This isn't meant to dissuade you from taking your family to check out the night sky at any locations that people might recommend here. I just wouldn't have an expectation of seeing aurora tonight anywhere near the GTA.

For Canada-specific aurora forecasts, check out this page (southern Ontario is in the 'sub-auroral' zone).
posted by theory at 8:48 AM on August 3, 2022 [1 favorite]

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