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Home Story Why the NWT has the World’s Best Aurora

Why The NWT Has The World’s Best Aurora

The Aurora flares up when charged particles from the sun interact with the Earth’s outer atmosphere. The colours of the Aurora vary based on what layer of the atmosphere is being “excited.” The most common colour is an eerie green and yellow glow, caused by the excitement of oxygen atoms about 120 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. Depending on the element, the Northern Lights can come to life with reds, blues, and purples. Each time the show is different, but the effect is always the same – wonder, awe, and lasting memories.

Being the home of the best Northern Lights in the world is a pretty bold claim, but we’ve got the facts to prove it. Here’s why we’re sure you’ll agree that the NWT has the world’s best Aurora.

In the central Northwest Territories, the Aurora is visible for up to 240 nights per year. That’s nearly every single night in late summer and autumn, which we refer to as the Fall Aurora season, and then again in winter and early spring for the Winter Aurora season.

Why are the Northern Lights so frequently visible in the NWT? The Northwest Territories enjoys crystal-clear skies, ultra-low humidity, and is located  beneath the band of maximal Auroral activity – what astronomers call the “Auroral oval.” All these factors create the perfect environment to see the world’s best Northern Lights, which can be seen up to 240 nights of the year.

The Aurora is, without a doubt, Canada’s wildest light show. Late at night. Far from city lights. Up at the top of the world. The night sky’s canvas bursts into colour with the most spectacular Northern Lights in the world and performs a dazzling display stretching from horizon to horizon. Being under the Auroral oval, the Northern Lights in the NWT are the brightest, strongest, and most active in the world. 

The displays are much more than vague hints of green in the night sky – in the Northwest Territories, the distinct swirling ribbons of vibrant colour live up to their otherworldly reputation. It’s this intensity that makes the NWT the best place to see the Northern Lights. Combine that with a wide selection of Aurora day trips with Northern Lights tour operators that take you to the best spots every night,  and you’ll find it easy to be mesmerized by the incredible show over and over again.

Sometimes, the Aurora blazes bright violet or crimson. This occurs during Auroral “storms,” when charged solar particles penetrate closer to Earth, exciting molecular nitrogen at altitudes as low as 80 kilometres overhead. Auroral storms happen when the sun ejects charged particles in a blast of “solar wind.” These winds hurtle toward Earth at up to 3 million kilometres per hour, bombarding our magnetosphere and sending the Northern Lights into a frenzied dance.

These Auroral storms are intense. During especially vivid light shows, scientists have measured the energy in the Aurora to be as much as 20 million amperes at 50,000 volts. By comparison, home circuit breakers are typically tripped by currents over 15-30 amperes at 120 volts. 

The Aurora isn’t the only thing buzzing with excitement at the crescendo of these displays. When you’re standing under the dancing glow, you’ll feel an indescribable combination of wonder, elation, awe, and even humility. Seeing the incredible power and beauty of this natural phenomenon is all part of experiencing life in the NWT.

Immerse yourself in the beautiful landscape of the North by choosing to stay at one of the many Aurora lodges in the NWT, which specialize in providing incredible accommodations for Northern Lights viewing experiences. Spending an unforgettable night under the most active and vibrant Northern Lights in the world can be one of the most luxurious ways to experience Canada’s North. It’s no wonder why so many people find themselves coming back to these Aurora lodges every year.

With the most incredible Northern Lights displayed above and the scenic landscapes of the North all around you, take a moment to let the sublime beauty of the territory wash over you.

Lots of people claim the Lights hiss and crackle, but for a long time, researchers dismissed these claims. . Scientifically speaking, the “noisy Aurora” theory seems mad. After all, the light show happens in the soundless void of space. Nevertheless, a few years ago, scientists recorded unamplified sounds including crackles, muffled bangs, and distant sputters. Although scientists cannot explain this yet, it adds to the remarkably magical experience of viewing the Aurora from the best vantage point on Earth.  

Inspired by the magic of the Aurora? Learn more about the best seasons to visit, the cultural importance of the Aurora, and available Northern Lights hunting tours. There is always another unforgettable experience to have under the best Northern Lights in the world.

Excited to see a true winter wonderland? Read more about what Northerners look forward to every winter and the ways you can keep busy (and warm!) on your authentic Northern experience.

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