Heading To Alaska To See The Northern Lights?
Here Are A few Things You Should Know About Seeing The Northern Lights In Alaska
Most people are surprised to find out that you do not need to travel to outside of the United States to see the Northern Lights. Though Norway’s aurora display is fantastic, the Northern Lights of Alaska are certainly a bucket list item for many of our travelers. Regardless of where you plan your Northern Lights viewing, there are a few things you need to know. For example, when are the Northern Lights in Alaska, what effects the when you can see the Northern Lights, and other scientific details about the aroura you should know before planning your trip.
When Are The Northern Lights in Alaska?
Best Time to See Aurora Borealis In Alaska
(When can you see northern lights in Alaska?)
Simply put, the best time to see the aurora borealis is during cold months. This time usually ranges from September to March. Areas near the magnetic north pole see the most brilliant displays, which become more intense as the temperature drops. Although the aurora technically occurs year-round, dark, cold night skies provide the best time to see the northern lights in the fall and winter.
Though we aren’t able to predict the solar activity that will cause the northern lights to appear, we have a few tips that help understand when the northern lights are going to show up; including climate, time of year, and geographic location.
Did You Know: The Solar Cycle Effects When You Can See The Northern Lights in Alaska
If you’re trying to decide on the best time to see the Aurora Borealis, take the year into consideration as well! The northern lights are caused by the sun’s charged particles reacting with particles in the earth’s atmosphere. The more solar activity, the more brilliant the displays will be.
For a more scientific explanation, every 11 years, the sun goes through an activity cycle that peaks at the solar maximum (high activity) and solar minimum (low activity). When the sun reaches maximum activity (the last solar maximum happened in June, 2014), the northern lights become their most bright and spectacular. Typically, the aurora will be highly active for 2-3 years on both sides of the solar maximum. This means that the 2016-2017 season was the most stunning display of the aurora that we had seen in a long time!
Northern Lights Ecotour In Fairbanks, Alaska
Our guides have been in Alaska for 30+ years, and love sharing this experience with guests. They have a keen understanding of when you can see the northern lights in Alaska. As such, each Northern Lights Tour with Gondwana is timed to align with the aurora’s activity. When the northern lights are out, a Gondwana guide will wake up guests so they can experience the magic!
On the Northern Lights Ecotour, guests stay near Fairbanks, Alaska while chasing the aurora. This geographic location is great for viewing the northern lights in Fairbanks — roughly 180 miles south of the Arctic Circle. Though Fairbanks has Alaska’s biggest population, the city lights don’t impact the visibility of the night sky from our secluded lodge located on a private reserve outside of the city in fact, Fairbanks is one of the world’s most popular destinations to see the lights. During the day, learn about local culture and explore Alaska’s natural wonders. At night, watch for the northern lights under a starry sky. Learn More About the Northern Lights Ecotour!
Beyond Fairbanks, there are parts of Alaska that are incredibly remote – a true wilderness relatively untouched by modern life. Enter Bettles, Alaska. With a population of 12, the pristine tundra is an unparalleled backdrop to the northern lights. After experiencing the culture and liveliness of Fairbanks, Bettles offers an interesting contrast to how many Alaskans live in rural communities. Learn More About the Arctic Circle Extension!
What Colors Are The Northern Lights In Alaska?
Similar to the aurora in other parts of the world, when you see the northern lights in Alaska, you will typically witness an array of swirling green, white, and teal hues. When the aurora is more intense, then purple and magenta edges may be visible.
What Affects When You Can See The Northern Lights In Alaska?
To be clear about when you can see the northern lights in Alaska, you should understand a few things:
- The time of day affects when you can see the northern lights
- The season affects when you can see the northern lights
- The time of year affects when you can see the northern lights
The good news is that if you are going to see the aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska, then you have a 90% chance of seeing the northern lights if you visit between late August and late April. That’s six months of aurora viewing!