How Often Do The Northern Lights Happen?

how often do the northern lights happen

The Northern Lights are one of the most well-known and amazing natural phenomena on the planet.

In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at this phenomenon, and find out the answer to how often do the northern lights happen?

In a nutshell, the northern lights are happening twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and 365 days per year. However, this doesn’t mean they are easy to spot, you need to be in the right place at the right time.

Let’s take a closer look…

What Are The Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, otherwise known as aurora borealis are an atmospheric phenomenon that is regarded as the holy grail of skywatching.

An Aurora, also known as a “polar light” is a display of lights in the sky in the Arctic and
Antarctic regions in an area known as the Auroral Zone.

Aurora in the Northern Zone is known as Aurora Borealis or more commonly known as the Northern Lights.

These lights are usually green in color but are sometimes violet, blue, pink, or red. These auroras are constantly moving and changing shape, sometimes being so dim that people mistake them for clouds.

They can also be incredibly bright too, and light up the night sky making for some fantastic photography of the phenomenon.

These beautiful lights have captivated people for millennia and are beautiful dancing waves of light that occur due to events that happen in the sun.

The sun burns with such high energy that it superheats the gases surrounding it, tiny particles are blasted away from the sun at speeds of over 750km per second.

This stream of particles is called the solar wind, and the earth is directly in its path. This solar wind can disrupt satellites and be harmful to astronauts, but the earth is protected due to its magnetic field.

Most of the particles from the sun are deflected by the earth’s magnetosphere, but some make it through to the atmosphere.

When these electrically charged particles come into the atmosphere, they ignite the oxygen and nitrogen which causes them to light up, causing the beautiful colors of an aurora.

How Often Do The Northern Lights Show Up?

So how often do the northern lights show up?

Well, they are actually showing up every single day, that’s right, 24/7. However, they are not always easy to spot, which is why oftentimes you need a guide to take you to the right places.

The Northern Lights are actually active all year round. The best place to witness this phenomenon is any destination that is in the “Auroral Zone“.

The good news is that this area is rather large, and within approximately 2500 kilometers (1550 miles) of the North Pole.

This is the zone in which the aurora most frequently occurs, although the Northern Lights can creep further south with strong solar storms.

how often do the northern lights happen
Infographic: InnTravel

To maximize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, it’s a good idea to go with an experienced guide that can take you to the places where the lights are most likely to show.

Being away from city lights will help to increase visibility, as sometimes the lights can be dim and hard to make out unless you’re in a dark area.

Where Is The Best Place To See The Northern Lights?

The best time of year to see the Northern Lights is between September and April, this is when the sky gets dark enough so that the aurora becomes more visible.

Ensuring you do your research before your search for the Northern Lights is crucial.

You’ll want to check the weather forecast and keep the moon phases in mind, as a full moon can light up the night sky and affect your chances of seeing the lights.

According to sources and guides, the best time of day to spot the lights is between 9 pm and 3 am.

The Northern Lights can be unpredictable, so you’ve really got to do your homework and ensure you’re as prepared as possible to enhance your chances of witnessing the phenomena.

But where is the best place to see the Northern Lights?

  • Tromso, Norway
  • Swedish Lapland
  • Reykjavik, Iceland
  • Yukon, Canada
  • Ilulissat, Greenland
  • Fairbanks, Alaska

What Are The Chances Of Seeing The Northern Lights?

There are many different places you can go to see the Northern Lights, and if you find an experienced guide then you’re chances of witnessing them are quite good.

The Northern Lights are happening constantly in different areas of the world, it’s a 24/7 display, however during the summer months they are essentially invisible to the eye.

There is no guarantee that when you go to a location to try and witness the Northern Lights you will find them.

However, if you’ve done your homework and understand the best time of year to see them, as well as working with a guide, I do believe you have a good chance.

Some locations have worked out the average likelihood percentage over a 4-day stay at resorts as being an 83% chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

I’ve never witnessed the Northern Lights personally, but I do know plenty of people who have.

All of the people I know have used different companies and guides to ensure they are at the right place to see the lights.

And everyone I spoke to that has been on a trip to see the lights have witnessed them, which is amazing and shows how good some of these guides really are.

Final Thoughts

So, how often do the Northern Lights happen? They are happening all the time, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

During the summer months, they are invisible to the human eye, but when in season, they are visible and a beautiful natural phenomenon that is sure to blow you away.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope it’s been useful in helping you understand more about the Northern Lights.

If you have enjoyed this post, feel free to stick around and learn more about extreme weather and natural phenomenon.

Scroll to Top