Canada, Alaska, and many of the northern tier states are well within the range that can experience these dramatic light displays.
This Canadian Northern Lights video demonstrates the dramatic effect we see on many clear nights:
What Causes The Northern Lights
Charged particles coming from the sun travel in solar winds toward Earth.
As they are pulled into Earth’s magnetosphere, they collide and excite atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere.
The color of the lights will vary, depending on what gasses or compounds are present during this solar event.
The end result is a waving sheet-like light effect that will undulate and swirl through the night skies being more visible the farther north you happen to be.
Have You Seen The Northern Lights?
I’ve seen this spectacular light show many times.
Living in northern Minnesota, I’ve noticed that late at night (well after midnight), these random dancing lights are best seen on a clear night when the stars seem close enough to be within reach.
My favorite memories of the Aurora Borealis are of times when I was a young adult snowmobiling many miles from civilization in the north woods. The farther you get away from cities or populated areas, the less ambient light will block out your view of the night sky. We would travel deep into the woods, shut off the snow machines, and lay back on the seats to enjoy the light show above. All the while, reveling in the absolute silence of a 30-below freezing cold winter night.
After high school, I worked my first summer as a deckhand on an iron ore carrier traveling the Great Lakes. Late at night, we would sit on deck in the middle of Lake Superior and listening to the “thump, thump” of the steam-driven propeller, as we slowly worked our way toward the iron mills in Cleveland. (This was one of the last steam-powered vessels to work the lakes.) The night skies were crystal clear and the Northern Lights would swim through the stars following us on our journey.
Watching the light show wash across the heavens can be a spiritual experience. The Cree Indians call it “The Dance of the Spirits”. It will give you cause to stop and ponder our place in the universe for sure. Even today (as recent as last fall, when I happened to witness the Northern Lights), I still stop and watch.
Check out these tips for photographing The Northern Lights.
Enjoy this Northern Lights slideshow, featuring some fantastic photography of the Aurora Borealis:
I’ve been involved in RVing for 50 years now — including camping, building, repairing, and even selling RVs. I’ve owned, used, and repaired almost every class and style of RV ever made. I do all of my own repair work. My other interests include cooking, living with an aging dog, and dealing with diabetic issues. If you can combine a grease monkey with a computer geek, throw in a touch of information nut and organization freak, combined with a little bit of storyteller, you’ve got a good idea of who I am.