About the Aurora Borealis:

Why does the Aurora appear so frequently over Yellowknife?
 
  1. What is the Aurora?

On our earth, the aurora phenomenon occurs at the north and south poles.  In the northern hemisphere the aurora borealis is commonly known as the “northern lights”.  In the southern hemisphere the aurora australis is also know as the “southern lights”. This phenomenon occurs when particles in solar winds are pulled into the atmosphere by the earth’s magnetic force.  The aurora is said to be continuously occurring between 100km and 500km above the earth’s surface.

 
 

 

 
 
  1. Where is the best place to observe the Aurora?
Located around both magnetic poles of the earth is a halo like ring called an aurora oval. The area directly beneath each aurora oval is the best place to see the aurora most often.  The cities located under the northern oval include Yellowknife, Canada; Fairbanks, Alaska and Lapland, Norway.  Among these places, Yellowknife has the least geographical obstructions, such as mountains, to provide a high percentage of clear weather in the winter which results in a high viewing probability.
 
     
 
  1. When is the best time to see the aurora?

The aurora occurs all year round. The image of winter and aurora is strong, but you can actually view the aurora during the summer.  However, for some of the summer months in Yellowknife and other locations with high latitude, the sun only goes down for a short while.  Since it is still bright in the middle of the night it is not possible to see the aurora.  Furthermore, during the autumn and spring, the weather is rather unstable and has a lower percentage of clear skies.  Therefore, we have determined the best viewing seasons to be from mid-August to the end of September and from mid-November to mid-April. In Yellowknife, it is possible to see the aurora approximately 240 days of the year and when there are no obstructions such as heavy clouds, they almost always appear.  Aurora Village has calculated that each season, customers who participate in 3 consecutive days of aurora viewing have over a 95% chance of seeing the aurora. 
While some people may be concerned that a full moon is a problem,  only weak aurora may be obstructed by the light of the moon, but in Yellowknife the aurora is frequently strong enough that aurora viewing is still possible on a moonlit night.  As far as aurora photography goes, the aurora above a moonlit landscape actually tends to have a pleasing effect.  On the whole, when participating in an aurora tour, one doesn’t need to be worried about the moon.

 
     
 
  1. What types are there? 

The colours of the aurora range from the most common whitish-greens, to pinks, then to the rarer reds, blues and so on.  Red is difficult to recognize with the naked eye, and a deep red colour is so unusual that many people who live in the north have never seen it.  It comes in a variety of shapes: curtains, ruffles, bow, band, whirlpool, corona, but there are never two auroras of the same colour and shape. Finally, there is the aurora break-up comes with amazing speed and makes the night sky dance with awesome beauty. However, fast moving, colourful aurora can often last only a short time of around 10 minutes.  At Aurora Village, all of the staff are equipped with short-wave wireless radios in order to continually monitor and communicate the condition of the aurora so that the guests will not miss an aurora display.

 
     
 

Why can you often see aurora above Yellowknife?
Situated around each of the earths geo-magnetic poles is a ring-shaped “Aurora Oval”, and one of the cities directly underneath the northern oval is Yellowknife. Along with the curtain structure, and colourful lights, the “Aurora break-up” also appears frequently directly overhead.  With lifelike movement, the coronal aurora has a powerful presence.Imagine laying in warm winter wear on a frozen lake, underneath a natural planetarium of countless stars. At last the aurora appears like a veil over the starry sky.  Unleashing beautiful colours, with shapes that change in an instant the aurora creates a deep impression of the mysteries of heaven and earth that will bring tears to your eyes.

What does it mean for the aurora to burst open?      
Based on the strength of the solar winds, the belt of aurora activity that runs east to west can move from north to south or vice versa.  When this belt passes directly overhead, the corona shape of the aurora is said to “burst open”.)Actually, this is the effect of looking up at the curtain shaped aurora from directly below it.  In the instantaneous changing shape of the aurora, pink and sometimes purple can be seen at the hem of the aurora curtain.  When a concentrated curtain-like or pleated ruffled aurora appears, those who witness it are often overwhelmed.

 
     
All Photographs in this website are copyrighted-Aurora Village