Northern Lights Tour and Aurora Borealis Travel Guide Guide for Northern Lights Tour – Aurora Borealis
  • Where can the Northern Lights be seen within the continental U.S?

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    Barbara M asked:

    Has anyone seen the Northern Lights inside the U.S.? Do I have to go to Canada or Alaska to see them? Can they only be seen in the winter?

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    Published on February 3, 2010 · Filed under: Earth Sciences & Geology; Tagged as: , ,

4 Responses to “Where can the Northern Lights be seen within the continental U.S?”

  1. rokaround said on

    Maine I believe I have seen the pix on the net,If wrong sorry, Google it if you are going there

  2. georock1959 said on

    The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can be seen from many northern states. Winter is best because it will be darker.

  3. david_bowman_sc said on

    The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are normally seen on a regular basis in areas north of 60 degrees latitude. BUT, they have been seen as far south as Florida. They can be seen at any time of year, but are more likely to be seen in winter in the northern hemisphere, when the north pole is turned away from the Sun. They are not bright enough to be seen in daylight, although their light can be bright enough to make it easy to read, such as during the October 2003 major solar storms (see article in below).

    The aurora (northern and southern) are created when charged particles from the Sun strike the magnetosphere of the Earth at heights from 60 to about 600 miles and are carried toward the magnetic poles. When the charged particles strike the atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, they cause the atoms to emit light in a variety of shades. I live in Ohio and have seen reds, greens, white, and blues. The colors vary depending upon the energy of the charged particles and the atoms or ions they strike (usually nitrogen and oxygen).
    Aurora are most intense and seen over the widest areas (furthest south) when the sun is extremely active (at the height of its sunspot cycle, roughly every 11 years).

    Edit for Bakerman:

    I remember seeing an extremely bright showing of the Aurora from my home in western Pennsylvania. I think it was in the fall of 1968 (I was only in that home from 1968-1969). That was around the peak of solar cycle 20.

  4. I can’t confirm that I’ve ever seen them, but I remember 40 yrs ago when my dad pointed ot the northern sky on a winter night (in far northern NY) saying he thought the undulating glow was them – but could also have been the dim glow from Montreal – that’s why I say I can’t confirm.

    Excerpt from web site cited below:

    To see aurora you need clear and dark sky. During very large auroral events, the aurora may be seen throughout the US and Europe, but these events are rare. During an extreme event in 1958, aurora was reported to be seen from Mexico City. During average activity levels, auroral displays will be overhead at high northern or southern latitudes. Places like Fairbanks, Alaska, Dawson City, Yukon, Yellowknife, NWT, Gillam, Manitoba, the southern tip of Greenland, Reykjavik, Iceland, Tromso, Norway, and the northern coast of Siberia have a good chance to have the aurora overhead. In North Dakota, Michigan, Quebec, and central Scandinavia, you might be able to see aurora on the northern horizon when activity picks up a little.

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