2024 is the best time to see the Northern Lights in decades: How to plan your trip
If you’ve always wanted to see the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, 2024 could be your year.
Tips for seeing the aurora
According to Erica Grow Cei, a public affairs specialist and meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Center, the aurora is expected to be especially strong through 2025. This period of higher activity is likely to last through this year into 2025, but the technology doesn't yet exist to predict precisely when a strong geomagnetic storm will happen.
Tracy Therrien, owner of Bucket List Tours in Yellowknife, recommends going with an aurora guide to enhance your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. They can help distinguish the aurora from clouds, especially when it first appears as white. Avoiding a full moon is also advised, as it can wash out the aurora. Staying in one location for at least four or five days, away from light pollution, increases your chance of seeing the lights.
Get the right gear
To endure the cold temperatures required for Northern Lights viewing, it is essential to have the right gear. Different tour companies offer gear rentals for winter clothes such as insulated snow boots, snow pants, parkas, mittens, neck gaiters, and headgear. Renting gear can save space in your luggage and make the trip more economical.
During a trip to Yellowknife in late January, the temperatures reached below 30 degrees Fahrenheit. With the appropriate winter clothing, the group was able to comfortably explore the outdoors for extended periods.
Why Yellowknife is a great place to see the Northern Lights
Yellowknife, located under the auroral oval, is an optimal spot for viewing the aurora borealis. It experiences more frequent and stronger aurora due to the Earth's magnetic field being buffeted by storms in the solar wind. The lack of mountains or oceans near Yellowknife provides a stable weather system and clear nights, making it an ideal destination to witness the Northern Lights.
Yellowknife also offers additional activities, such as snowshoeing, tubing, snowmobiling, dogsledding, local restaurants, and cultural experiences to enhance your trip.
How to plan your trip
Expedia provides a Northern Lights booking guide for various destinations, including Yellowknife, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Iceland, and Alaska. It is recommended to research different options and determine which destination suits your travel needs best.
When photographing the Northern Lights, patience and experimenting with camera settings are essential. However, it is equally important to savor the moment and fully immerse yourself in the experience.