Northern lights season is coming to an end — here’s how to see them before it’s too late

Mar 5, 2020

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If you’re reading this, it’s not too late to catch a glimpse of the northern lights this season.

As winter finally draws to a close, warmer temperatures and longer days are on the horizon. While that’s great news for those of us who can’t stand the cold, it means your chances of seeing the northern lights are rapidly ending. Typically, the aurora borealis becomes even more rare in late spring, with March and April signaling an unofficial end to northern lights viewing season.

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The good news, though, is that you still might have an opportunity (or two) to make it happen, but you’re going to have to move quickly.

“Auroral activity will be moderate” the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks said of March 5, 19, 27 and 28. “Weather permitting, moderate displays will be visible overhead from Utqiaġvik [Alaska] to as far south as Talkeetna [Alaska] and visible low on the horizon as far south as Bethel, Soldotna and southeast Alaska.”

During these dates, the Kp index — which measures aurora strength — will be a 4, according to the institute. The index is generally less than 4, so your chances of seeing the lights are slightly greater than usual. The index ranges from 0 to 9, with 0 being the weakest and 9 being a strong geomagnetic storm.

Of course, you’ll have to make a trip up north to see them.

While fears of the fast-moving coronavirus are on the rise, this could be a good excuse to travel to a region that, as of time of publication, has not been affected by the virus. According to Forbes, you’ll either need to take a last minute trip to Alaska, or travel to a destination near the Canadian border for a chance to view the ethereal auroras.

Related: How a global outbreak has left the travel industry reeling

Fairbanks, Alaska may be one of your best bets, and is only a three-hour flight from Seattle-Tacoma International (SEA). Seattle is home to Alaska Airlines, and you can book nonstop flights there on virtually all major domestic carriers from major hubs across the country.

If you’re looking for an easier itinerary from the East Coast, you’ll want to head to Acadia National Park in Maine. Cadillac Mountain has the best view, Forbes said, and you can get there by flying into Portland (PWM). The park is about a three-hour drive from the airport. Or, again, you can venture even farther north to Canada.

Featured image by Zach Honig/The Points Guy.

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