The Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, is a natural phenomenon that occurs high in the northern hemisphere in a few countries around the world. I was lucky enough to grow up in Alaska where seeing the northern lights is a recurring, casual event. Since moving to Taiwan, one of the top questions I get after telling Taiwanese students and friends where I’m from is, “Have you seen…?” and then they proceed to point to the sky. I always smile when this happens because it’s a nice reminder of how lucky I was to be able to observe the northern lights seasonally. It’s a surreal experience with vibrant colors of blue, green, pink, and violet, dancing across the sky.
About an eight-hour drive from my hometown of Anchorage, Alaska, you will find a small city called Fairbanks. Here is one of the best places to find the northern lights because it’s directly under the Auroral Oval (an area in which aurora activity is concentrated). The aurora season begins from August 21st to April 21st but I suggest visiting sometime between November and March because that is when they are their most active and you will get the best chance to see them. The best time of day to see them is at night (once the sun is down) but beware – Fairbanks is very cold. Expect temperatures to be anywhere between 0 to -40 degrees Celsius.
A favorite activity locals like to do during the winter to stay warm while looking for the northern lights is to go to the Chena Hot Springs. Here, you can change into your bathing suit and relax in the natural hot springs while gazing up at the sky. One more tip: if you plan on visiting, be sure to search “aurora borealis tracker” with the name of the country you are traveling to in Google and you will find plenty of websites that share the northern lights forecast for the upcoming weeks.
Not interested in traveling to Alaska? You can also find the northern lights in these countries: Norway, Finland, Scotland, Canada, Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Russia, Estonia, and more!