My quest to see the northern lights, but study up before you go
About a year ago, my family took a trip to Alaska in hopes to see the infamous aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. But we didn’t do enough planning and ended up not being able to see them, which has recently made me motivated to learn more.
For those of you who don’t know much about them, the northern/southern lights are a bunch of lights that appear in the night sky varying in color. They are caused by collisions between certain gases (oxygen and nitrogen) and electrically charged particles released from the sun. In my opinion, the aurora borealis is one of the most incredible phenomenons on this earth.
The catch though is that these lights are only present in some areas of the world during certain seasons.
Since the aurora happens near the magnetic poles, getting as close as possible to them will be the best chance at seeing them. Fairbanks Alaska and Iceland are two really good places to travel to if you are trying to see them. But the magnificent lights are also sometimes present in the United States as well.
Another important thing to know is that since the lights only appear in dark, clear skies, the best time to go hunting for them is in late August to early April, when the weather’s clear and there are long nights. Getting away from as much light pollution as possible will also significantly increase your chances of spotting them, though I know that can be difficult with the increase of fossil fuels in our air.
If you’re ever traveling during the winter, make sure to look up where the aurora borealis is and keep these tips in mind! (p.s. make sure to dress really warm!)
I can’t wait until I can get another chance to see them in person.
Kili is a junior at Mountainside High School. She loves singing, playing piano and ukulele, and also running track and field.