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Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Canada: 8 Best Spots

best time to see the northern lights
Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

For generations, the beautiful dancing waves of lights have attracted thousands of people with their beauty and attractive light show. They cast a greenish glow, or occasionally a faint crimson, on the horizon towards the pole, seeming to give an effect of the rising Sun. We refer to them as the northern lights or Aurora Borealis in the northern hemisphere, whereas in the southern hemisphere near the South Pole, it is called the southern lights or the Aurora Australis.

The best place to see the northern light is in Canada. One of the most sought views is the streaks of light that can enchant the viewers. Let me get you an overview of the best time to see the northern lights in Canada and where you can get a chance to witness this atmospheric marvel when going aurora hunting.

The phenomenon that gives rise to this beautiful streak of lights is rather violent. Often regarded as the Holy Grail of skywatching, the northern lights are an exhibition of artificial light due to the atmospheric phenomena observed mainly in the high-latitude regions.

It is a solar cycle caused due to solar activity when energized solar flares release solar particles. The coronal mass ejections of the Sun collide into the Earth’s atmosphere, mainly the upper exosphere and thermosphere, at a very high speed. We are protected from this surge by the Earth’s magnetic field. The Earth’s magnetic field then radiates it towards the poles, transforming into a cinematic effect of light, fascinating the spectators of this phenomenon.

Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer, was the person to coin these lights the name of ‘Aurora Borealis,’ the Greek god of the north wind. However, the earliest known evidence of the northern lights has been gathered from a painting in France dating back to 30,000 years.

Best Time To See The Northern Lights In Canada

The atmospheric phenomenon which gives rise to the northern lights can be seen with the naked eye. Canada gives a view of the northern lights in almost all four seasons. Although it happens all year round, the possibility of seeing the northern lights increases much more in the winter months, followed by clear nights, dark skies and clear skies. Cloudy weather, cloudy skies, excessive light pollution or city lights hinder the aurora forecast.

The northern lights season is mainly considered the winter months from November to March, the best time to see the northern lights. With longer dark hours, clear nights and minimum light pollution, the time around midnight, from 10 pm to 2 am, is considered the window hours to view the spectacular display.

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Most North Canadian land lies under the aurora zone or the aurora oval in the Northern Hemisphere. The auroral oval is a massive ring above the Geomagnetic North Pole of Earth. Viewing aurora forecasts is also considered the hot spot to witness the spectacular northern lights. Although almost every Canadian city or province can give you a view of the northern lights, the following mentioned are some of the popular northern lights destinations.

1. Some Best Spots To See The Northern Lights During Winter Season

1. Yukon

Yukon’s Wild West has long been the setting for legendary adventures, dating back to the days of the Gold Rush. Dogsledding, fat biking, and roughing it out in the open prospector style are a few activities to try out, and from September to April, you can catch the northern lights while you’re there. Despite being a great reason to visit, the Midnight Sun makes it such that the night sky is not dark enough to observe the aurora borealis in the summer. The aurora sighting can be viewed best in the late winter and early spring.

Take pictures of the frequently explosive show or, even better, watch it in person to ensure you don’t miss anything. In the winter, Northern Tales offers a range of aurora packages and excursions, including ice fishing and dog sledding. Choose between a comfortable, insulated yurt or a warm First Nations-style teepee at the AuroraCentre of Arctic Range Adventures.

To complete the pleasure, incorporate dogsledding, animal viewing, and a dip in Takhini Hotsprings. Boréale Explorers, a team of expert mountain bikers, operates a chic eco-lodge and basecamp in Yurtville, close to Whitehorse, where they organize guided snow riding and aurora combo trips as well as snowmobiling and dog sledding excursions.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels

2. Nunavut

Nunavut also is a great place to see the aurora because of its vast open tundra and northern location. With 16 hours of daylight each day from May to August and 24 hours per day in June and July, the spring and summer seasons in this region are characterized by what seems to be an infinite supply of daylight. Travelling during the long, gloomy months of October through April is best. For instance, there are just four hours of daylight in December. Locals enjoy the regular, rippling aurora displays throughout this time of year.

Consider travelling to a remote traditional Inuit community like Kimmirut, where you may go kayaking and observe icebergs. Alternately, go to Whale Cove, where you may go fishing after a night of aurora viewing and see beluga whales.

Some Other Great Spots To See The Northern Lights In Canada

1. Northwestern Territories

The Northwestern Territories of Canada is also known as the Northern Lights mecca. Here, the lights are typically visible 240 nights a year, indicating high solar activity in the area, which is the best site in Canada. The region is blessed with clear nights, low humidity and a location directly beneath the auroral oval.

Licenced tour operators provide a wide range of experiences along with northern lights experiences, including luxury hotels to stay in. A bus tour from Yellowknife to Great Slave Lake in the aurora season is an even more adventurous experience to see the northern lights.

2. Newfoundland And Labrador

The most breathtaking choice in the summer months from early April is likely an exclusive journey to Torngat Mountains National Park on the Labrador Peninsula. The geology is unusual and stunning, the rock formations are four billion years old, and the Inuit way of life is still practised there. Remote Torngat Mountains Base Camp and Research Station, which opened its doors in the summer, put you in touch with the land, the Inuit elders who live there, and the international scientists who study it. It also offers an unforgettable aurora show in a natural environment.

Broad areas of stunning, undeveloped wilderness can be found in Newfoundland and Labrador, especially in pristine Labrador. The summers also give a view of the northern lights here as there is an increase in solar activity. With the Northern Lights dancing above, people can travel nearly 1,500 kilometres of paths during the winter for aurora sightings. You might include fishing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing if you’d like.

3. Yellowknife

If you enjoy privacy, fly into a stylishly rustic resort in the autumn season from Yellowknife on a spectacular aircraft journey. Watch the aurora display on the clear skies from the hot tub on the terrace or the dome-shaped rock that overlooks the water in front. The spectacular show can be combined with activities including hiking, fishing, and paddling.

When set against a snow-covered, icy landscape, the northern lights are at their most striking in the winter, which is also the northern lights season. A teepee community south of Yellowknife called Aurora Village offers the most suitable place to watch the performance while being comfortable. The location was built specifically for viewing the aurora and is furnished with roomy, wood-burning, heated teepees, fur-lined couches, and heated, reclinable viewing capsules.

4. Alberta

It’s tough to match the glistening lights as they contrast with the imposing Canadian Rockies and are reflected in the lakes fed by glaciers. The Geophysical Observatory at Athabasca University, which investigates the effects of the Aurora on Earth’s magnetic field, is located in northern Alberta. For the best observation locations, non-scientists should visit Banff National Park in the autumn.

Banff National Park is the best place in Canada to see the northern lights because of the complete darkness at night and the lack of light pollution. The peak aurora activity occurs between mid-September and mid-May. When camping and other popular Rockies activities, which include hiking and canoeing, are included in the trip, you can frequently view them comfortably in the fall.

Even though Banff’s radiance can sometimes be seen, you should avoid being among people. To find out when there is a reasonable probability of seeing the aurora, see Aurora Watch. The aurora can also be observed from Lake Minnewanka, just ten minutes outside town. Alternatively, try Herbert Lake, perennially popular, or Castle Junction on the way to Peyto Lake or the turquoise Lake Louise.

In addition, the two largest dark sky preserves in the world are Wood Buffalo National Park, where 3,000 wild bison graze free, and Jasper National Park, which is renowned for its breathtaking scenery. Make a campfire, bring a warm sleeping bag, and stay up late.

5. Ontario

The best months to see the aurora in Ontario are late August, September and October. Manitoulin Island, Cree Village Ecolodge, and Pukaskwa National Park are the most significant locations to see the aurora. The most excellent place to watch a spectacular aurora show is outside a city with little ambient light.

Although the aurora is more frequently visible in the Arctic Circle Region and further north, Ontario and other lower latitudes in Canada have regular displays of the spectacular sight of the northern lights.

Photo by JACK REDGATE on Pexels

Try one of the top outfitters in Ontario with aurora viewing capabilities, including Killarney Mountain Lodge, Gordon’s Park Eco Resort, or Moosonee, for a complete experience. Enjoy northern Ontario’s numerous attractions and myriad outdoor adventure opportunities while you’re up north waiting for the aurora to show; it’s a wild and beautiful region that isn’t well known but is well worth the journey. Hudson Bay and the Great Lakes flank northern Ontario.

6. Manitoba

The second-best time to see the Aurora is from September to November. A two-hour flight from Winnipeg will take you to Aikens Lake Wilderness Lodge, where you can combine trophy fishing till mid-September with a lights show from the cozy deck.

Churchill, which advertises itself as “one of the best three sites on the earth” to see the northern lights, is located here. To study the aurora, researchers from all over the world travel to the hamlet of about 900 people, which is well-known for its polar bear population. The opportunity to combine a visit with arctic adventures, which include must-see animal encounters: seeing beluga whales, polar bears, Arctic foxes, and more, elevates the experience.

With the bitterly cold temperatures, which can plunge to 40 below zero, Churchill experiences its peak aurora season in February and March. Join seasoned tour company Frontiers North and set off in a heated Tundra Buggy equipped with a bar at about midnight. In addition to renting clothing from the Polar Inn & Suites, bring spare batteries, which can malfunction during freezing temperatures.

Set up camp with Northern Tales in a rustic tent camp akin to that of a prospector close to Whitehorse. The outfitter offers contemporary amenities like barrel burners and steaming beverages to keep you warm as you wait to watch the aurora.

Travel along established caribou trails during the day, then spend the evening at Arctic Haven Wilderness Lodge, ideally situated to see the aurora. On crisp autumn evenings, you have the best chance to see the northern lights here. A quick bush plane ride from Yellowknife, NWT, brings you to the lodge, which is located on the Arctic Barren Lands on Ennadai Lake, west of Hudson Bay.

Photo by Jonathan Bean on Unsplash

The sub-Arctic region of Manitoba borders Hudson Bay and is located there. The ideal approach is from Winnipeg, including a stop at the Manitoba Museum to learn more about the northern lights and the finest photography techniques.

You can also see wildlife like grizzlies and wolves in addition to the light show and the backdrop of blazing fall colours. Prepare for constantly changing weather by bringing clothes, strong hiking boots, and an umbrella.

Some Other Places To View The Northern Lights

Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia are among the countries that can view the northern lights since they are close to the Arctic Circle’s core. Antarctica, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia are among the countries with high southern latitudes where the aurora australis can be seen.

Oslo, Norway’s capital, is too far south of the Arctic Circle to observe the aurora borealis. Norway is a long, thin country. Therefore, you should travel to northern Norway, where Tromsø is firmly located within the aurora zone.

The best viewing conditions for the northern lights can be found worldwide at Abisko National Park in Swedish Lapland. The sky is usually always clear thanks to the region’s particular climate, and light pollution is hardly noticeable. This is the best time to see the northern lights. The Aurora Sky Station is located nearby as well. Between September and March, the parts of northern Finland experience nearly every other clear skies with the lights shining, which is the best time to see the northern lights, but the southern part of Finland experiences only around 10 to 20 evenings each year with the lights shining.

Photo by Tobias Bjørkli on Pexels

The Northern Lights are not frequently visible in the UK. Some areas of northern England can occasionally be seen on particularly dark evenings.

It’s interesting to note that some hotels in Iceland have an “Aurora Wake Up Call” button on the in-room phone. By pressing this wake-up call button, the hotel can wake you up whenever the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) appear in the sky.

Conclusion

Arcs, rays, curtains, and coronas all have distinct appearances that are influenced by the forms of the atmosphere’s luminous components and the observer’s location. Although almost in all seasons, these atmospheric miracles can be viewed in Canada and other countries in the Auroral Zone, winter is the best time to see the northern lights or aurora.

Sometimes as a faint glimmer close to the horizon. Rays are upward-reaching arcs of varying degrees of light and dark stripes. Although they may be near the edge of vision, these can be recognized from moonlight clouds since stars can still be seen clearly through brightness, as surfaces or patches that resemble clouds and sky arcs are seen. Other planets also display the northern lights. In addition to most of the planets in the Solar System, auroras can also be seen on a few natural satellites, brown dwarfs, and even comets.

Written by Jayasmita Saha

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