Seeing the Northern Lights in person is an experience like no other. The mystical colors swirling in the sky (referred to as “aurora”) are caused by the sun’s electrically charged particles entering the Earth’s atmosphere and colliding with gaseous particles. And while a bit of green shimmer recently appeared in New England, there are usually only a handful of locations close to each of the Earth’s poles where the phenomenon can be viewed.
Wintertime travelers in Northern Canada and Alaska have spectacular chances of seeing the lights without leaving North America. Step away from the glow of the cities and scout out viewing spots in places like Denali National Park.
With its prime northerly location, this region is an aurora hot spot. Finland, Norway, Sweden and even northern Denmark are known as great viewing spots.
In the British Isles, the highlands of Scotland offer the best opportunity to see the lights. While the U.K. is notorious for cloudy weather, spectators have a good chance of catching a glimpse on that rare clear night.
Outside bustling Reykjavik, aurora light up the sky above the dramatic landscapes of Thingvellir National Park and beyond.
Did you know?
– Aurora borealis refers just to the aurorae in the Northern Hemisphere. On the Southern Hemisphere, the phenomenon is called aurora australis.
– Most aurorae occur near each pole between 3º and 6º latitude, but can cover a much larger area during a geomagnetic storm.
– The most common auroral color is a pale green, caused by particles colliding with oxygen.
– Aurora means “sunrise” in Latin, and is also the name of the Greek goddess of dawn.
Where would you most like to see the Northern Lights? Tell us in the comments!