Northern Lights Tour and Aurora Borealis Travel Guide Guide for Northern Lights Tour – Aurora Borealis
  • When do the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) most vividly and frequently occur?

    northern lights alaska
    tigersuit asked:

    I’m planning a trip to northern Canada and Alaska and one of the things I’d most like to see are the northern lights. However, I can’t seem to find any solid info on a time of year when they are most likely to be seen or when they would be the most vivid. What would the best time of year to travel to Alaska/Canada to see them?

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    Published on December 12, 2009 · Filed under: Earth Sciences & Geology; Tagged as: , ,

5 Responses to “When do the Aurora Borealis (northern lights) most vividly and frequently occur?”

  1. They would be most vivid during an electromagnetic storm on the sun. Also, you would have to go in the winter during the long nights there, the aurora usually is poorly visible in the day

  2. Northern (ans southern) lights are caused by storms on the sun sending charges particles of matter through space. When they hit the earth’s Magnetic Field the cause a “glow”.

    The Northern Lights are NOT seasonal, and can occur at any time of the year, and are pretty much unpredictable, UNLESS you know someone who “watches” the sun. like an astrophysicist. SOMETIME they can tell when the sun is going to “erupt”, and possibly predict northern lights.

    So, no one can tell you “what time of year” is best to see them — because they don’t work that way.

  3. quartzman777 said on

    i believe year around but only visible at the very north most part of the earth, probably only above artic circle…

  4. Witty Whit said on

    The lights are always there, just not visible during daylight. Which rules out the summertime. Fairbanks is the best place to catch them because it’s usually over Fairbanks a greater percentage of the time (the band moves)

    See this link for “solid info”

  5. χ-ѕђαпz-χ E=mc²/ Σ=ρнεпомεпоп=Σ said on

    The aurora is formed when charged particles (electrons and protons) are guided by the Earth’s magnetic field into the atmosphere near the poles. When these particles collide with atoms and molecules of the upper atmosphere, primarily oxygen and nitrogen, some of the energy in these collisions is transformed into the visible light that characterizes the aurora.
    When there is a disturbance on the sun, such as a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, it can produce a disturbance in the solar wind. This in turn will cause a disturbance in the balance between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field. As a result, electrons and protons are accelerated within the magnetosphere.

    The aurora is a near daily occurrence somewhere on Earth and there is almost always an aurora in the sky (both day and night, but in the daytime it is out-shined by sunlight). However, the following factors can increase your chance of seeing them:

    Time of Day: Because the intensity of the light in an aurora is low, it can only be seen at night. Furthermore, the most active and brilliant displays usually occur near midnight. Therefore, the best time to observe the aurora is, on average, between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m.
    Season: In the northern hemisphere, the best time to view an aurora is during the winter. At latitudes where auroras are common, it is typically light all night in the summer—so you rarely have warm weather and a good aurora. Furthermore, in most polar regions, the weather tends to be clear during the middle of winter—so often the best time to see an aurora is also the coldest.
    Sun Rotation: It takes the sun 27 days to rotate one time around its axis, so 27 days after an aurora display, the active region on the sun that caused the aurora will face Earth again. Although solar activity in that region on the sun might have decreased in the mean time, there is still a greater chance of aurora 27 days after the last period of increased auroral activity.
    Solar Activity: Auroral activity also correlates with the activity of the sun, which changes according to an 11-year solar cycle. In general, the more active the sun, the greater the number of auroras. Thus, auroral displays are more likely around the time of the solar maximum (when solar activity is high). Aurora displays remain frequent and strong for several years around solar maximum. During solar maximum, the auroras are not only more frequent and more active, but they also can come further south away from the poles (it should be noted, however, that bright and active auroras can be observed at any time during the solar cycle).
    Weather, the full moon, and light pollution also affect your ability to see aurora. Your best bet for seeing aurora is to get as close as you can to the position of the auroral oval, and as far away as you can from sources of artificial light and overcast skies. Tips on viewing the aurora can be found at NOAA’s Space Environment Center.

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