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  1. #1

    Default How / when to see northern lights?

    OK, so this is a non-flyfishing question:
    My wife has been working really hard all year, and hasn't taken even a weekend away since June. She's just decided that she'd like to see the northern lights during her break between Christmwas and New Years.
    I realize that there's no guarantee that the aurora will be lit up, or that the skies will be clear, and so we may need a "plan B" of thing to do or sightsee. This is a last-minute thing, and I just started looking at Alaska, Canada, Iceland, and the Scandavian countries.
    For those of you who live in or have visited these areas, do you have any recommendations?
    I'm hoping to purchase plane tickets by Cyber Monday.
    There's not a day that goes by that I don't wonder how dreary this world would be if elk were bald and birds had no feathers.
    - Hank Patterson

  2. #2
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    The very best bet is to be at either Fairbanks or North Pole Alaska in this area. We see them almost every night to some extent but the further north you are the more dramatic the show. If they are active and showing deep into south central AK. Hatchers Pass is a good spot but for people coming just to see them I say go north. My avatar was taken at the cabin which is considerably further north than our home.

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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  4. #3
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    For your starting point in SoCal I'd say Fairbanks. There's a not small niche travel business catering to northern lights viewing based in Fairbanks. BUT you're a little late in the game for the time period you're looking at, act NOW! You could do this completely on your own but getting a little help from a tour operator will improve your experience.
    I had a friend do this two years ago, had a great time.
    Jim

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    Another pretty good bet is Talkeetna, there are quite a few B&B places that specialize in having a good view of Denali and if the lights happen the mountain is in the picture also. We go up there a lot, it's 77 miles from here. Funny but 77 miles north can make all the difference. For that destination you could fly into Anchorage, rent wheels and drive up, it's about 180 from the airport. If you end up choosing that I'd have to think about coming up to meet but Fairbanks or North Pole are the sure bet.

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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  8. #5
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    I live in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories and we're pretty much the aurora capital of Canada. Latitude-wise we're about the same as Fairbanks, which is in the "aurora belt". There are many hotels and tour operators that specialize in aurora tourism here, most of which cater to (tho' not exclusively) Asian tourists--we get literally tens of thousands of them every year. Usually they also fit in some other northern-type activities: dog sledding, ice fishing, city tours, etc. You could also buy your wife a diamond mined from one of our many diamond mines--a very unique Northern gift--or pick up some local Aboriginal art. The hotels and tour operators even have parkas and winter boots you can wear if you don't have your own (not sure what Fairbanks is like this time of year, but we can easily be -20 to -30 C in December and January). Canada might be an attractive option given the advantage the Yankee dollar has right now.

    As Jim noted, you've left this kind of late so I'd get on booking flights and hotel rooms asap. And, of course, there's no guarantee you'll actually see them once you get here. If you only come for a weekend or 3-4 days you may be out of luck; a week or more is a better bet--we'll usually have clear skies at least once or twice a week. You can fly up here direct from Vancouver, Calgary, or Edmonton.

    PM me if you want more info or recommendations for hotels, tour operators, etc.

    Scott

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  10. #6
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    Seeing the northern lights is absolutely on my bucket list as well. After reading this thread I did a little google snooping and found this. Not sure if it will help or not but thought it was interesting nonetheless.

    Northern Lights Forecast

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  12. #7
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    Quote Originally Posted by c web View Post
    Seeing the northern lights is absolutely on my bucket list as well. After reading this thread I did a little google snooping and found this. Not sure if it will help or not but thought it was interesting nonetheless.

    Northern Lights Forecast
    Now that is one totally cool web site! I'm too far south to see them at this point. Phooie!
    When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. - Billy Graham"

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  14. #8

    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    We see them here in Vermont occasionally, though not often. I think it has something to do with unusual solar activity. I remember once being at a party at a friend's house when one of the kids came in from the yard and asked "Why does the sky look so funny?" We went out to look and it was really amazing. That was years ago and I don't think we have had as impressive a display since then.

  15. #9
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    Default Re: How / when to see northern lights?

    You may have found this already but I'll provide a link to UAF Aurora Forecast | Geophysical Institute

    The university of Alaska has a Geophysical Institute and they publish that Aurora forecast page, they also do an e-mail update to alert users of upcoming displays. They are accurate but cloudy skies can hide them. There was a decent show a couple nights ago but nothing here for the past 2 nights due to cloud cover........

    Anywhere can be the land of great expectations, broken dreams, or paradise found, it's all up to you.

    Life On The Line - Alaska Fishing with Ard
    Ard's Forum blog, Alaska Outdoors

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