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Northern Lights in Yukon
Photo by Government of Yukon/ Robert Postma

4 amazing facts about Yukon’s Northern Lights

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If you need proof that Canada has the best backyard of any country on Earth, all you need to do is head north and look up at the sky on a clear night. If the conditions are right, you’ll bear witness to one of the most dazzling natural phenomena our planet has to offer: the Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are Canada’s slice of the seven natural wonders of the world!

Born of electrically charged particles from the sun that travel on solar winds to collide with gases in the upper reaches of the Earth’s atmosphere, the Northern Lights bathe the arctic skies in an eerie green and purple shimmer that draws tourists from all over the world. Because the Northern Lights can be seen comfortably in the northern hemisphere, the Yukon is the perfect destination to witness this special phenomenon. From mid-August to mid-April, visitors from all over the world flock to the Yukon to bask in the awe-inspiring glow of the Northern Lights.

But there’s more to the Northern Lights than just solar particles dancing in our atmosphere. Here are four fascinating reasons to head north to the Yukon and experience this must-see natural wonder for yourself.

They’re every photographer’s dream subject

There’s a reason that a trip to the Yukon is on every photographer’s bucket list. Even when you’re gazing upwards, awash in the astonishing green and purple glow of the lights, your camera can capture even more of their colours and details than your eyes. With a clear sky and a long-exposure setting, even amateur shutterbugs can take breathtaking nature shots, and Yukon operators can provide tips on how to capture shots of the Northern Lights using your digital camera.

You can see them from space

While a trip to a northern destination like the Yukon is your best bet to see the dazzling lights with your feet planted firmly on Earth, astronauts orbiting our planet can also see the spectacular light show, which has led them to wax poetic about our pale blue dot sheathed in “dancing curtains of auroras.”

They occasionally head south

Like Canada geese, the Northern Lights occasionally migrate away from the north, and there have been reports of people seeing auroral sub-storms as far south as Cuba. More recently, on New Year’s Eve of 2015, auroras lit up skies near the Canada-U.S. border. It’s worth noting, however, that although people in the southern edge of Canada may get a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse at the Northern Lights, your best chance of seeing the unpredictable light show is still to head to the Yukon. Interested in learning more? Visit travelyukon.com to explore suggested itineraries and find out more about this natural phenomenon.

They’re totally unpredictable

Unlike a sunny hot day at the cottage, which our beloved meteorologists always predict with 100% accuracy (yes, that’s sarcasm), the Northern Lights continue to evade our best guesses on when they’ll appear, despite the efforts of solar physicists. The reason is that the sun’s charged particles that cause the display have their own magnetic fields, whose direction can’t be determined until we see them. But as with any adventure, their unpredictability makes them all the more satisfying when you catch a glimpse. And because the Yukon has countless other attractions for anyone who loves nature, a random glimpse of the Northern Lights is just part of a journey you’ll never forget. And for those who follow weather forecasts, you’re in luck because the Yukon also provides a daily aurora forecast.

Rock out at Keno Gras: a small weekend festival in Keno City that’s highly recommended.