Aurora in the Yukon

By | Category: Travel destinations
Yukon's northern lights

the northern lights in the Yukon

Once again a good viewing winter of the northern lights – the aurora borealis is expected. Anyone who has hunted for his spectacular display has often been thwarted by nature and ended up seeing little but one place that should be able to consistently deliver is the Yukon.

The main reason is that this sparsely populated area of Canada has few lights to fudge the night time sky into believing that something is there when it isn’t and vice-versa.

Yukoners know that autumn can be the best time of year for viewing northern lights. The other advantage of visiting the Yukon in the autumn is that there is the leaf foliage change to watch for in the daytime. Southern Yukon seems to be the best place for colour and the suggestion is to head towards Carcross or west to Haines Junction.

The local tourist authority explains what you should look out for. It says, “First you might see a hint of neon colour in the starry sky, then a jagged burst of green, and soon you’re transfixed by an ethereal display of shimmering aurora borealis. Depending on auroral activity and cloud conditions, you could spend hours watching with rapt attention as the magical show unfolds overhead. Whether you’re fascinated by the science or thrilled by the opportunity to photograph the aurora, the sight of dancing lights in the night sky nourishes all souls.” You could describe that as being a bit over enthusiastic but once you’ve seen the northern lights you do tend to verge on the excitable. Even me!

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are caused by huge explosions on the surface of the sun that send out streams of charged particles that interact with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. These reactions occur 60 to 80 miles above the Earth’s surface, so it doesn’t make any sense that they can be heard. Still, many people report hearing a crackling or rustling noise when they see the lights. It could be that the sound is created near the ground by electrical phenomena associated with the aurora. It could also be that watchers are being affected by psychological or physical processes that we don’t yet understand.

Aurora forecasting technology also helps increase the odds and Tourism Yukon have developed a tool at: http://travelyukon.com/Plan/Travel-Info/Aurora-Forecast to help predict when you can see the lights.

Two reasons for visiting the Yukon this autumn, then. But take warm clothes. Snow has already fallen in many places.

For more information about Yukon, click here.

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