Northern Lights; the Aurora BorealisPosted on Apr 16, 2013
The northern lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, occur about 60 or 70 miles above the earth’s surface —about 10 times higher than a jet aircraft flies — and can extend hundreds of miles into space. The most common color displayed is a brilliant yellow-green, but the Aurora Borealis can also produce red, blue and purple patterns.
When to See the Northern Lights in Alaska
The best time to watch is in spring and fall, especially February, March, September, and October. Most intense from December to March when nights are longer, the sky clearer and darker. One of the best times to look for the Northern Lights will be when it is dark because of a new moon.
Viewing the Northern Lights in Fairbanks
At 65 degrees north latitude, Fairbanks is within the so-called “aurora oval,” the area where Northern Lights occur most often and are the brightest. If you stay 3 nights in Fairbanks, you have an 80% chance of seeing them. The aurora is most active late at night or early in the morning, clear skies and darkness are essential to see the northern lights. The best places for viewing are outside town, away from the city lights. The Steese Highway north of Fairbanks to the town of Fox offers several good views of dark skies to the north. Cleary Summit is only about 20 miles out of town and has a parking lot suitable for viewing the aurora. The second best alternative is along the Elliot Highway. The third route, which runs just 60 miles into the hills, is Chena Hot Springs Road. Parks Highway towards to Ester is an option too.
Online Aurora Forecast: http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast
Fairbanks weather report: http://www.wunderground.com/US/AK/Fairbanks.html