Northern Lights?

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Master of the Pit
Original poster
OTBS Member
Mar 6, 2009
This is not about smoking but wifey and I are interested in seeing the Northern Lights.  I understand that the next couple of years should have increased activity and may be the best time to try and get a good show.

The recent edition of Backpacker magazine suggested the NE part of Minnesota as a good place to see them.  Can anybody help with good viewing locations in the lower 48 and the best time to view.   I know around the equinoxes but don't know if one week on either side or 1 month on either side of the equinox is good.  I assume a full moon is bad for aurora viewing?  So is it generally better to view one week before or after an equinox if I can take advantage of a new moon?

I live way down south and trying to juggle weather (cloud cover), travel arrangements, solar activity etc is what I have to base my plans on, I guess.  Anything else I need to consider.

I would either ride the City on New Orleans to Chicago and rent a car there or just make a two and a half day drive to Voyagers National Park.  Something I would like to visit anyway.  I can't imagine the cost of purchasing airline ticket on a two day notice.

I guess another consideration is the probability of having a good show in the lower 48 as opposed to Alaska or Canada.  Are my chances for good viewing in Alaska and Canada so much better that I should just plan a 10 day vacation and hope the weather cooperates?

Thanks again for any help,

I grew up and and have lived in Northern MN most of my life and though I have see northern lights many times at least for me it really isn't that common from my experience. Well I suppose it is common enough to see them throughout the year but as far as being common enough to plan a vacation and expect to see the lights that could be hard from my experience and where live and travel to. I don't know anything about how or what you need to make them happen but I have always seen them in the summer in MN/ND but I know they happen in the winter as well. Maybe someone can shed some light on how you can better plan so you would see some but I live in Fargo ND now and I have seen them here and all the way up to the Canadian border throughout my years. Some times they are really really bright and crazy and dancing all over and some times they much less dramatic. Good luck.
It's my understanding that the biggest determining factor for the Aurora Borealis display is an increase in sunspot activity, which is not readily predictable. I've seen some impressive display up here in Maine, but only maybe 12 times total in 50+ years.
I've seen them on the internet.
Hahahahaha...very funny. I'd give ya one of them new thumbs up thingys, but I already used my quota for today.

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Growing up in Northern NY it was a fairy regular thing. I'll bet way up there it is spectacular.

We try to get up to the mountains to see the Persids when they are coming to town.

Thanks for the invite RP, you posted it so if it happens I'll get in touch.   


Al and Craig

Seeing them on the internet is kind of like seeing a meteor shower on the Internet  When you see the real think it just blows your socks off.  We saw a tremendous Perseid shower 7 or 8 years ago and now I am hooked.

I'm in my 50's now so I want to put them on the bucket list.  It may take a decade or so to catch a good show so I better start early!

That sounds like a new thread,  check under general discussion.

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