Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aurora Borealis

I have been making plans for aurora borealis hunting over the Easter break, based on the assumption of going to Alaska.  The more I think about this, however, the more I wonder if going to Alberta might be a less expensive alternative.  One of the problems is that auroras are notoriously unpredictable, at least months out.  Predictions improve dramatically at 28 days and at three days.  But then you end up with very expensive flight reservations, and it is simply not practical to drive to Alaska and back in a week.

However: northern Alberta is in about the same geomagnetic latitude as central Alaska, with the advantage of generally being drier and clearer, because it is far inland from the ocean.  It is also possible to drive to Edmonton, Alberta, in two days (assuming there is not a lot of snow), and half day to the northern part of Alberta where the auroras will be best.  If the aurora forecasts are looking good, we jump into a rental car and drive north.

Of course, in Alaska we would also be visiting places like Denali.  I know that Canada has some absolutely beautiful national and provincial parks.  I confess that what I know of northern Alberta is bogs and tundra, but perhaps I am being unfair to the place.


  1. In April, you could see the mountain, Denali, from the Parks Highway, but the road into the park is not plowed, so it will likely be impassible. the drive to northern Alberta would probably lead to more likely sitings. the weather service office in Fairbanks does an aurora forecast, it is somewhat reliable over 2 to 4 day spans.

  2. Northern Alberta is still rather south of central Alaska. Yellowknife, NWT, would be a better destination.

    1. http://astronomynorth.com/
    2. http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/astronomy/auroramax/default.asp
    3. http://www.explorerhotel.ca/yellowknife/northern-lights/