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A Guide to Witnessing the Aurora Borealis in Canada

Updated: Apr 22

Canada is a must-visit destination for those seeking to witness the mesmerizing northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. As one of the northernmost countries in the world, certain regions in Canada experience this natural phenomenon up to 240 times annually.

The aurora borealis occurs when solar particles collide with the Earth's magnetic field, causing a luminous display in the Northern Hemisphere. The Southern Hemisphere's version of this phenomenon is known as the aurora australis.

The photo captures the beauty and serenity of the northern lights in northern Saskatchewan. A lone man is standing in the wilderness, surrounded by the vast darkness of the night sky, with the colorful aurora borealis dancing above him. He appears to be lost in thought, perhaps reflecting on the wonder of nature or his own personal journey. The photo is a stunning reminder of the awe-inspiring beauty that can be found in the natural world, and the power it has to inspire and uplift us.
Alone with the Northern Lights: A Man's Reflection in Northern Saskatchewan

Although the auroral zone, which stretches from the Arctic Circle (at 66°33′ north) to the North Pole, is the best location for viewing the northern lights, accessing this remote area is challenging due to its sparse settlements. As a result, most northern lights tourism in Canada takes place in relatively more accessible areas such as Yellowknife in Northwest Territories, Whitehorse in Yukon, and Churchill in Manitoba, which is a popular destination for polar bear and beluga whale watching. However, it's worth noting that northern Saskatchewan is also an excellent and less-known location for observing the northern lights. Therefore, it's recommended to place heavy emphasis on this region as well when planning your northern lights experience. For the best chance of seeing the northern lights, choose a destination located as far north and away from city lights as possible, with clear skies.

This photo captures the serene beauty of a northern lake in Canada, with the colorful aurora borealis illuminating the night sky in September. A canoe is peacefully gliding across the calm waters, creating a sense of tranquility and connection with nature. The photo conveys a feeling of solitude and contemplation, as if the viewer is alone in the wilderness, surrounded by the majesty of the natural world. The northern lights add an element of magic and wonder to the scene, reminding us of the awe-inspiring power of the universe.
Canoeing under the Northern Lights in September

Solar activity tends to be at its peak around the fall equinox in September and the spring equinox in March. However, the longer daylight hours during these months can decrease your chances of witnessing the northern lights. Typically, the auroral activity reaches its climax between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., but the northern lights can be visible at other times as long as the sky is dark.

To enhance your northern lights viewing experience, it's important to plan for as many days in Canada as possible since weather conditions may not permit sightings for a few days. Additionally, it's important to consider the moon's phase since the light from a full moon can dim the northern lights. Optimal conditions for viewing are during a new moon or crescent phases. Lastly, you can check the aurora forecasts from the Space Weather Prediction Center of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, which provide northern lights predictions ranging from a few hours to a few days in advance based on solar activity.

To increase your chances of witnessing the northern lights, plan a trip to Canada's Great White North. This guide provides all the necessary tips for experiencing the awe-inspiring aurora borealis in Canada.

Although the northern lights can be active throughout the year, they may not always be visible. To increase your chances of viewing this celestial spectacle in Canada, plan your trip between September and March, when there's sufficient darkness during nighttime. In summer, Canada's northernmost regions experience 24 hours of daylight, making it difficult to see the northern lights.

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Ashley Park

Dre has a true passion for photography, but his night time photography is what really sets him apart from the rest. It takes a lot of patience, planning and instinct to have a successful aurora chase! Highly recommend this photographer as the qualities listed above, cannot be bought nor can they be faked


Barbara Seibold Wilkes

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. That is what happened for me today as I viewed his once in a lifetime shot of an Aurora Borealis that spoke to me in an extremely meaningful way of a Butterfly and Angel. Delving into his long (and continuing) list of talents and accomplishments, I look forward to following Dre Erwin’s photography and life’s journey. It is a good day!


Corey O’Soup

By putting cameras in the hands of these youth, a nurse literally is saving lives in the north.


Leanne Mikkelsen Thoroughgood

Love Dre’s photography! It is breathtaking and vibrant - life affirming! Recommend following his photography as it provides calm and peace at the end of the day!

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