Explorer’s Log : Last Chance to See the Northern Lights?

Gazing up at the northern lights is a common wish on most travelers’ bucket lists, but do you know that this year is the last chance for you to see the Aurora Borealis before they dim for a decade?

Don’t worry, it is not disappearing; just that it’s going to appear less frequently over the next decade.


What is an Aurora?
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. Auroras appears when highly-charged electrons from solar winds collide with different atmospheric elements in the ring surrounding the region. The resulting ionization and excitation of atmospheric constituents emits light of varying colour and complexity.


What is the Northern lights?
Northern lights is a common name for the Aurora Borealis (Polar Aurorae) in the Northern Hemisphere. Aurora Borealis is named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas, by Galileo in 1619. Auroras seen within the auroral oval (region that currently displays an aurora) may be directly overhead, but from farther away they illuminate the poleward horizon as a greenish glow, or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction.

The Northern lights take place on an 11-year solar cycle. Solar activity, including massive solar eruptions, can occur anytime and produce intense aurora, but those eruptions occur erratically and unpredictably. The 11-year cycle creates a period of frequency, but according to Peter Delamere, associate professor of space physics at the Geophysical Institute, we are at the beginning a downward leg of the cycle. This means that there will be less frequent aurora in the Northern Hemisphere until 2024 or even 2026. So perhaps you would like to plan for your trip to the North now.

We will introduce some Aurora Borealis hot spots in the next post 🙂

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