Top 10 Tips for a Chance to See the Northern Lights

Magnificent natural phenomena occurring in regions near the North Pole, the Aurora Borealis is the result of solar particles that collide with our atmosphere. These sublime green streaks that decorate the polar nights of certain regions are tracked by many travelers and we understand why. But how do you see them? What to do ? Where to go ? What jumpsuit to wear?

1. Treat your aerodromophobia (fear of flying)

Yes because if you live in France, you will have to take the plane to be able to observe them. The northern lights are visible in the auroral zones which are in the regions of Greenland, Alaska, Lapland, Antarctica, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and especially the North of Canada, not very accessible in RERB therefore. It is on Canadian territory that one can witness the greatest manifestations of this luminous phenomenon.

2. Choose your period carefully, we avoid coming in summer for example…

The Northern Lights most often occur during the period from September 21 to March 21. It is necessary to choose the driest months (February, March) since the amount of precipitation is less and the sky is therefore clearer.

3. Stay away from cities and light pollution

Indeed, between the lampposts lit eternally (just below your window to prevent you from sleeping all the days of your life) and the shop windows always lit, the city, at night, is really not the ideal for stargazing. And even less the aurora borealis which only really stand out thanks to the contrast created by the dark night they cross.

4. Accept to sacrifice your sleep

Most of the Northern Lights appear between 6 p.m. and 1 a.m. However, when a first appears in the early evening, it is possible that a second occurs in the night, so we must remain vigilant. Also, in some hotels, you can ask the reception to alert you when there is an aurora borealis. The main thing is not to set them on fire violently when they call you in the middle of the night.

5. Learn to follow a lunar calendar

It is preferable to choose a period during which the moon is absent or in formation because there is less light in the sky and we can better discern the aurora borealis.

6. Get ready to piss off a little (a lot)

Yes, because in general, you will first go by plane to the main city (Stockolm, Osla for example) then you will then have to deal with long journeys by train, car or even plane. Moreover, if you wish to observe the aurora from your hotel, there are panoramic igloos where the price of one night can go up to 900 euros. So, that’s a bit pricey. Fortunately, we can find formulas a little less expensive. But in any case, we advise you to eat pasta for a few months before flying to Iceland.

7. Subscribe to boreal forecast sites (and brush up on your English)

And then also revise your geography and your physics a little because these forecast sites are still often quite hyper not super mega clear for the lambdas that we are. But we give them to you anyway: Geographical Institute, Auroras Now.

8. Be patient, but not too much

When you are in low latitude (Montreal, Quebec), the auroras are observable at a fairly low frequency, ie 1 to 3 times a month. On the other hand, in the cities of Fairbanks and Nome in Alaska, we can see them over a period of 200 days, which leaves many more opportunities to witness the phenomenon.

9. Learn how to take great night shots (yes, really hard)

And since the only photos we really master are the duckface selfies in our bathroom, we’ll kindly invite you to consult the sites of professional or non-professional photographers who, at least, manage to take photos almost correct… This one for example: Les Others

10. Enjoy the present moment before returning to your seedy little office.

We apologize for this harsh reality check. Truly.

If you apply these little tips to the letter, it is obvious that you will witness wonderful aurora borealis and it will be thanks to us so do not hold back from thanking us graciously, regularly and with love and kindness.

Source: Le Routard, Voyageur du Monde,,

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