7 Best Places To See The Northern Lights In 2024 (And When To Go)
GAFFL
17th Jun | 3 min read

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    2024 Is one of the BEST times to see the northern lights. In this post, we're diving into why 2024 is your best chance, in over a decade, to catch the breathtaking Northern Lights display. But that's not all – we're also revealing the top destinations to experience this celestial spectacle and the best times to plan your trip. Whether you're a seasoned aurora chaser or a first-time adventurer, you won't want to miss this! Also, if you're looking for a travel companion for your Northern Lights expedition, be sure to check out GAFFL. 


    The visibility of the Northern Lights is influenced by several factors, including the geographic location, weather conditions, and the time of year.

    The solar cycle plays a significant role in the intensity and frequency of the Northern Lights. This cycle lasts approximately 11 years, during which solar activity fluctuates between solar maximum (peak activity) and solar minimum (low activity). Auroras are more frequent and intense around the solar maximum. We were moving towards a solar maximum, which was initially  expected to peak around 2025, however according to experts, it’ll arrive sooner and last longer than previously expected, "which is a pretty significant change." The sun will reach the peak of its current activity cycle in 2024, one year earlier than previous estimates. according to experts at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NOAA's Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC).


    During the solar maximum, the Sun emits more solar flares and coronal mass ejections, sending more charged particles towards Earth. This increased solar activity enhances the strength and frequency of the Northern Lights, making them more visible and vibrant, even at latitudes where they are less commonly seen.

    Local weather and light pollution also significantly impact visibility. Clear, dark skies away from city lights are ideal for observing the Northern Lights.


    To maximize your chances, consider planning your trip during the winter months when nights are longest, and keep an eye on solar activity forecasts and local weather conditions. While auroral displays are never guaranteed, traveling during these optimal conditions increases your likelihood of witnessing this natural phenomenon.

    Geographically, the Northern Lights are most commonly seen in the "Auroral Zone," a band typically located 10° to 20° from the magnetic poles. This includes parts of Canada, Alaska, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland. Visiting these regions during the darker months of the year (September to April) increases your chances of witnessing the auroras, as long nights provide a dark sky necessary for the lights to be visible.


    Here are some of the best locations for observing the Northern Lights in 2024:


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    Tromsø, Norway

    • Why: Tromsø is well within the Arctic Circle, making it one of the most accessible and reliable places to see the Northern Lights. The city offers a variety of tours and activities geared towards aurora watching.

    • Best Time: September to March

      Fairbanks, Alaska, USA

      • Why: Situated under the "Auroral Oval," Fairbanks offers some of the best chances to see the Northern Lights in the United States. Its inland location also contributes to clearer skies.

      • Best Time: Late August to mid-April


        Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

        • Why: Yellowknife is known for its clear skies, minimal light pollution, and location directly under the Auroral Oval, making it an ideal spot for Northern Lights viewing.

        • Best Time: Mid-August to April


          Reykjavik and Vicinity, Iceland

          • Why: Iceland offers unique landscapes to enjoy the Northern Lights, with relatively mild winters. The entire country can offer good sightings, but areas outside Reykjavik or the Thingvellir National Park are preferred for darker skies.

          • Best Time: September to April


            Abisko, Sweden

            • Why: Located in the Swedish Lapland, Abisko is often touted for its microclimate, which results in clear skies much of the winter, making it an excellent spot for aurora watching.

            • Best Time: December to late March


              Ivalo, Finland

              • Why: Ivalo, and the surrounding region of Finnish Lapland, offers a magical backdrop of snow-covered landscapes and is another prime location for Northern Lights, with professional tours and aurora accommodations.

              • Best Time: September to March


                  Murmansk, Russia

                  • Why: Being well above the Arctic Circle, Murmansk provides a great vantage point for the Northern Lights. However, it's essential to be prepared for the Russian winter.

                  • Best Time: October to March


                    Tips for Viewing

                    • Plan Ahead: Book accommodations and tours well in advance, as these locations can become quite busy during peak Northern Lights season.

                    • Stay Flexible: Weather can be unpredictable, so plan a stay of at least a few days to increase your chances of a clear night.

                    • Check the Forecast: Use aurora forecast services to plan your viewing activities around the most likely times for auroral activity.

                    Visiting these locations during the suggested times can significantly enhance your chances of experiencing the breathtaking natural phenomenon of the Northern Lights.

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