Category: Northern Lights Alaska

When and Where to See The Northern Lights In Alaska

By , October 14, 2011 10:13 am

The aurora borealis is a breathtaking tapestry in the Earth’s atmosphere caused by charged particles colliding with each other on the sun’s surface during a heavy sun storm. The name comes from the Latin word “aurora”, meaning “dawn” and “boreas”, which is the Greek name for the north wind. The northern lights emit wonderful colors namely green, blue, red, and violet. An aurora borealis exhibition can last for up to ten or fifteen minutes.

There is a specific location where the Alaskan northern lights can be seen, apparently 60 degrees north latitude. Fairbanks is lucky enough to be situated within the auroral zone at approximately 65 degrees, where the northern lights appear frequently and vibrantly. Travelers are guaranteed they will have at least 80% chance of witnessing the aurora if they stay in Fairbanks for three days, according to Fairbanks Visitors Bureau.

Denali is also the best second option when Fairbanks’ hotels and accommodation are congested with tourists as it is situated at 63 degrees north. There are, however, several other Alaska places which offer a considerably fair view of the aurora but transportation and accommodation are difficult to access. Nome (64 degrees) and Anchorage (61 degrees) are the next good spots to consider. Needless to say, the aurora can sometimes be seen in Sitka or Juneau, both situated far south.

The months of April until September are considered to be the season of eternal twilight if you reach the farthest north of Alaska just to see the aurora. Clouds can be your worst enemies during the month of August.

The northern lights are observed to be frequently showing up around fall and spring equinoxes, particularly on the 22nd of September and March and they seem to love playing around with the spectators appearing on unusual times of the day such as late in the evening, when everyone is ready to go to sleep and early in the morning, when everyone is dragging to get up from bed. Reports show that the aurora is strongest from December to March, when travelers are struggling to keep themselves warm because the temperature can go as low as -40 Fahrenheit during these months. Persistence is required for anyone wishing to see this great wonder of nature.

In order for you to see the northern lights clearly, you need to stay away from the city and avoid the city lights. Expect Ester Dome to be jam-packed during peak season primarily because the place offers perfect horizon-to-horizon view.

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