People from many U.S. states had another good reason to stay up late and spend some time outside this Labor Day weekend – Northern lights.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, we could see the mesmerizing natural phenomenon thanks to some geomagnetic activity, making a display of the aurora on both Saturday and Sunday nights.
The best places to enjoy the aurora were the states of Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, South Dakota, Maine, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. But, people could see the lights on the horizon even from Boston and New York.
For those who missed out because of a cloudy sky or any other reason, here are the best places in the world to enjoy the northern lights.
Thanks to Canada’s northern latitude, you can see northern lights here more often than in most U.S. states.
To maximize your chances, go to Yellowknife in the Northwest territories whose flat landscape enables you to see aurora displays even when the forecast is low.
Being mostly dry, this city usually has clear nights, which further increases the chances of a sighting.
You don’t even have to leave the country to visit one of the best aurora hotspots. Fairbanks in the U.S. state of Alaska has quite low precipitation and distance from the coast, which makes clear nights a commonplace for this area.
You can find many hotels here providing aurora wake-up calls, as well as tours available for all budgets.
Scandinavia and Northern Europe
The entire region of Scandinavia including Norway, Sweden, and Finland is ideally-placed when there’s even a medium aurora borealis forecast.
Still, town and cities in the north of these countries compete for the business of northern lights chasers, saying their location is the best one in Europe.
Weather makes all the difference. Coastal areas are usually cloudier, and that gives the inland region a slight edge. However, the difference between the temperatures of Northern Norway coastline and the inland area can be enormous.
So, aurora hunters often choose to stay in some coastal area and venture inland via a rental car or on a tour for a few hours in the evenings.
Tromso, the cultural culprit of Northern Norway, is the most popular place for this type of trip. The cable car, husky-pulled sled rides, and Arctic Cathedral are the best alternate attractions which help pass the time until the northern lights are on display.
If you prefer to wait for the amazing view in more comfort, go to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in northern Finland and stay in one of their amazing glass igloos. It’s a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
The Best Time to Visit
Aurora borealis display depends on many variables. Therefore, it’s always good to maximize your chances of sighting when planning an aurora-chasing vacation.
You can check out for upcoming solar storms on space weather forecast, but this is only 2 to 3 days in advance.
The typical season runs from the middle of August to middle of April when it’s dark enough to enjoy the northern lights. Choose the northernmost location possible.
There’s a complete darkness in most of the places mentioned above in the period between November and January.
Although this may mean more possible viewing hours, it may also mean a higher chance of cloudy skies and precipitation.
That’s why the best season for aurora hunters is September-October and February-March.