If you’re looking to get a sneak preview of what the night might potentially hold, check out the Astronomy North Aurora Forecast.

The aurora forecast is actually a calculation based on measurements of the solar wind, which is why it is only possible to have a short-range forecast. Most often, it’s only possible to see the potential for the northern lights a few hours before it is supposed to happen! Luckily, we’re situated in the best aurora-viewing location, so we see it almost every night.

Much like a weather forecast, the aurora forecast isn’t a guarantee of what will actually happen. Your aurora-viewing experience depends on many factors, not all of which can be represented in the forecast. For current weather conditions, please visit the Yellowknife Weather Network website.

What is the Aurora Borealis?

The aurora, or northern lights, are a natural phenomenon caused when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere. The particles are pulled by the earth’s magnetic force, which channels them towards our geomagnetic poles.

When these particles collide with the gas atoms and molecules of the earth’s atmosphere, the lights of the aurora are emitted. The more collisions, the brighter the lights.

The different colours of the aurora are created by particles colliding with different gasses in our atmosphere. As the earth has two magnetic poles, we get the aurora borealis at the North Pole and the aurora australis at the South Pole.

Common Names For The Aurora

Aurora Borealis means “northern dawn” in Latin. In ancient Roman times, Aurora was the goddess of dawn while Borealis meant northerly, hence the term aurora borealis. Most commonly, they are called the Northern Lights. Other variations include polar lights, northern polar lights, aurora polaris, and polar spirits.

Where Is The Best Place To See The Aurora?

Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada: hands down. The city and surrounding area are directly beneath the aurora oval, which is a halo-like ring found around both of the earth’s magnetic poles.

Although there are other places just below the aurora oval, the Yellowknife area is the best because of its relatively flat topography, coupled with few geographical obstructions. This allows for a higher percentage of clear weather, particularly in the winter, and therefore a much higher viewing probability. When you stay with us for three nights of aurora-viewing you have a 95-percent chance of seeing the aurora at least once. Take a look at our Nightly Aurora Photo Log to see how often we have an aurora display at Aurora Village.

How to Maximize Your Aurora-Viewing Probability

The aurora can be seen in the Yellowknife area up to 240 days of the year, which is when our skies are dark. In the summer, we have the midnight sun, so there is too much daylight to see it!

When there are no heavy clouds, it is almost always visible. In order to maximize the probability of seeing the aurora, we recommend three consecutive days of aurora-viewing.

We keep a daily record of aurora sightings and have found each season there is a 95-percent chance of seeing the aurora within three consecutive days. You can check out the daily record here: Nightly Aurora Photo Log­.