The northern lights are one of nature’s most amazing sights. These light displays appear in the sky in special locations all over the world. They result from the interaction between Earth’s magnetic field and solar winds. In this article, we’ll tell you the best places to see them.
1. Yukon (Canada)
Located in northwest Canada, the Yukon Territory is a vast and sparsely-populated region with long, unforgiving winters and brief, lukewarm summers. It’s also one of the world’s premier locations for watching the northern lights. Remote and largely devoid of people, cities, industry, or infrastructure, the Yukon is an amateur astronomer’s paradise. You won’t find many sources of light pollution here, with barely 35,000 people in the entire territory. When the skies are clear at night, the aurora borealis puts on an incredible natural light show.
Swirling neon green and undulating yellow shapes light up the night sky. Despite the desolate nature of the region, you can find lodging in Yukon’s Watson Lake. The northern lights Center provides a spectacular vantage point for watching the aurora borealis.
2. Cherry Springs State Park, PA
Cherry Springs State Park, located in Potter County, PA, is a world-famous location for stargazing in general. Its remote, isolated location, 2,300 ft above ground level, provides it with some of the darkest skies in the world. In fact, it was designated as a gold-level International Dark Sky Park by the IDA (International Dark-Sky Association).
It was the second park to ever receive this status. Stringent rules about light sources keep the park unpolluted, and perfect for watching the northern lights. Sadly, the aurora isn’t visible year-round. Even if you miss it, you can catch spectacular views of the Milky Way. Autumn is the peak season for the show. Every 11 years, though, the sun enters a peak in its sunspot cycle, which takes the northern lights into overdrive.
3. Fairbanks, AK
Located in the heart of Alaska, Fairbanks is both a small town and Alaska’s second-largest population center, after Anchorage. It’s home to the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and less than 200 miles from the Arctic Circle. With a population of just over 30,000 people, Fairbanks offers a combination of urban comforts and relative isolation.
It’s a perfect place to catch the northern lights in full glory. The area is an aurora oval, meaning that it’s ripe with northern lights activity from August to April. The lights take on a full spectrum of colors, ranging from purple to yellow and green. Best of all, many hotels in the area are devoted to aurora tourism. Some will even let you request a wake-up call whenever the light show begins!