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Alaska’s Northern Lights

Embark on a fascinating and sometimes illusive journey in Alaska chasing the Northern Lights and their graceful cosmic ballet of colors.

Chasing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is one of the most illusive and frustrating journey’s I’ve taken. Read my full blog article on how to maximize your chances to see the Aurora in all its beauty.

One of the most elusive and amazing sights to witness is the Aurora, a natural light display that visible predominately in high-latitude areas when solar winds collide with Earth’s magnetosphere.

Ionizing particles create disturbances that emit colorful, slowly dancing sheets of badassery.

This phenomenon happens mostly around the poles, especially during the darker months.

Peak months for the Aurora Borealis is September through March. It’s likely to be seen in Alaska, Iceland, and Northern Scandinavia.

Peak months for the Aurora Australis is March through September. It’s likely to be seen in Southern New Zealand and Tasmania.

Through the viewfinder

Alaska’s Northern Lights Uncensored

The harsh reality is that chasing the Aurora is very similar to fishing – some days you’ll catch nothing, others days you’ll be on a winning streak. Thankfully, the folks at NASA have been tracking solar cycles and can predict activity cycles that lead to increased visibility of the Aurora.

While solar cycle tracking gives us a good idea of what the general activity level will be, there are a lot of other factors that contribute to either seeing or not seeing the Aurora:

  • Location
  • Cloud cover
  • Atmospheric conditions

Even with this information, I visited Alaska to see if the Aurora Borealis would come out and play.

The midnight descent into Anchorage gave way to the pilot to making his standard briefings and announcing, “if you’re on the left side of the plane, you can gaze at the northern lights while we land.” The rest of the flight, I sat in my seat, watching the dancing green sheets of light as we landed.

I’ve never run so fast through an airport to grab a rental car and drive to somewhere to photograph the Aurora. As quickly as it started dancing across the sky, the Aurora stopped without notice, and the night returned to darkness. 

It’s worth mentioning that October is usually cloudy (particularly at night), hiding the Aurora. The night I flew in was utterly cloudless and calm – perfect for viewing the aurora borealis.

Everything you need to know before you visit Alaska’s Northern Lights

CURRENT WEATHER

11 C
/ 52 F

clear sky

AIR QUALITY

12

Good

GPS COORDINATIONS

61.1975, -149.9705

HIGH SEASON (MOST EXPENSIVE)

September – March

LOW SEASON (LEAST EXPENSIVE)

N/A

TIME SPENT

5-8 Hours

LOCAL CURRENCY

United States Dollar (USD)

CLOSEST AIRPORT

ANC, FAI

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