Known as the Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere, the Northern Lights show up in dramatic fashion from time to time in Northwest Montana.
What are the Northern Lights? According to the Northern Lights Centre of Canada, “The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south.”
How do I see the Northern Lights?
- Wait for a clear night – Viewing the Northern Lights is best on a cloudless evening away from suburban areas or other light pollution.
- Avoid viewing during full moons or long summer days – The few days before and after a full moon may reduce the visibility of the Aurora Borealis. Long summer days may also diminish the views of the lights. Peak viewing times are from 11pm – 2am.
- Allow your eyes to adjust to the dark – Give yourself 10-20 minutes to allow your eyes to adapt to the dark. Try to not use flashlights, cell phones or headlamps. If flashlights are necessary, use the red light setting.
- Check the Kp index and geomagnetic storm rating – Northern Lights are measured in the Kp Index and based on a scale geomagnetic activity (labelled G1-G5). Visit: Aurora Service to learn more about the index and labels.
Get out there and see nature’s light show!
Other helpful Aurora websites:
Unsplash photo credit: @vingtcent