Aurora viewing tips
You don't need any special equipment to see auroras, just a healthy dose of enthusiasm! You can view them in two ways:
- in person, under clear skies; or
- on the Web, thanks to the AuroraMAX observatory, which gives you a window on the northern lights above Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
Viewing the northern lights in person
The closer you are to the North Magnetic Pole, the better your chances of being able to admire the northern lights. That said, they can also be seen in more southerly parts of Canada during periods of intense solar activity.
Generally, the aurora appears a few hours after sunset, when the sky is clear, and tends to become more intense around midnight. If you are lucky enough to get to see the aurora up north, here's how to get the most out of your observation night.
- Choose a location free of light pollution. The bright city lights that light up the sky make low-intensity auroras invisible.
- Check the aurora forecast to find out whether the northern lights will be visible in the sky near you.
- Visit Space Weather Canada for Canada's forecast of geomagnetic activity, which is responsible for the aurora borealis.
- Check the local weather forecast before leaving. Clouds, precipitation and the full Moon make it difficult to see the aurora.
- Look all around you, not only north: auroras may appear anywhere in the sky.
- Check the position of the auroral oval in real time. Be sure to bundle up—it gets cold at night!
- Remember to bring your camera if you want to try to photograph the aurora.
Viewing the northern lights on the Web
If you want to see the aurora borealis from the comfort of your home, you can! Simply go to the AuroraMAX observatory page.
The camera turns on automatically as soon as the Sun sets in Yellowknife during the aurora season, from August to May. Follow AuroraMAX on Twitter or Facebook to receive aurora alerts.
You can also watch the auroras on replay.
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