Canada stretches high into the Arctic Circle, offering opportunities to see the Northern Lights. The northern lights or Aurora Borealis are a unique natural phenomena seen across northern skies during winter. The northern lights are often three green bands, or appear as smoke or curtains. There are different colors, with luminous green being the most common. The northern lights often unfold slowly across the sky and are then joined by other bands, growing brighter and remaining static, or in some cases becoming dynamic, swirling or even racing across the sky.
Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights
It is the sun that causes the northern lights. When particles thrown from the sun meet the magnetic shield of the earth, they move towards the magnetic North Pole, interacting with layers of the atmosphere. This interaction causes a release of energy, which appears as the northern lights. The northern lights occur most frequently in the late autumn to early spring.
Most people assume that the further north you are, the better the chance of seeing Aurora Borealis, but in Canada this is not always the case. With that in mind, here are five great places in Canada to see the northern lights from.
Yellowknife is in the Northwest Territories, around 500 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. Although an area of natural wilderness, Yellowknife is a city and has an airport accessible from other Canadian cities. Because Yellowknife is a considerable way inland, it often has long, clear nights, offering a good chance of seeing the northern lights.
Newfoundland And Labrador
On the eastern coast of Canada, Newfoundland and Labrador are famed for natural landscapes, particularly in the Torngat Mountains National Park. Although Newfoundland and Labrador are not as far north as other destinations, the northern lights can often be seen across the region. With international and smaller regional airports in Newfoundland, it is also an easy destination for a winter holiday.
Lake Laberge is around 50 kilometres north of Whitehorse, the capital of Yukon Territory. This large lake is surrounded by wilderness and is miles away from sources of light pollution. During winter it is possible to walk across the frozen lake to the middle, then look up and see the northern lights.
Damson City is the former capital city of the Yukon, known as the site of the Klondike Gold Rush in the early part of the twentieth century. This is one of the most northerly destinations in Canada from which to see the northern lights. The weather can occasionally be cloudy, but there is still a very good chance of clear nights. Both Damson City and Lake Laberge are easily accessible from Whitehorse International Airport.
Alberta in northern Fort McMurray is around 400 kilometres from Edmonton International Airport. Although a southerly destination, the northern lights are frequent here, because it passes over Fort McMurray and arches down across central Canada. It is also considered to have many clear nights, increasing the chance of seeing the northern lights.