Aurora Borealis & the Night Sky

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5 minutes, 7 seconds

A 2012 time-lapse compilation of the Aurora Borealis with original composition, "Coronal Mass Ejection," by Peter Van Zandt Lane.


How and When to See the Aurora in Denali

Viewing the aurora requires a few things to align for you:
  1. Aurora needs to happen.
    First and foremost, the phenomenon must be occurring. Aurora can be predicted like weather, although in a less precise way.
  2. The sky must be dark enough.
    Even if aurora is happening. the sky can't be too light. Because Denali is so far north, the summer sun is way too bright to see aurora. Visitors who come within six weeks before or after the summer solstice (~ June 21) should not expect to see the aurora.
  3. The sky must be clear enough
    Auroral activity happens high in the upper atmosphere. Thus, even if the sun is down and the aurora is happening, clouds can still block it out. So be sure to check a regular weather forecast, in addition to an aurora forecast, to get an idea if there's a decent chance to see the northern lights.

Where to See the Aurora

In the Denali area, nearly everywhere is free from human light pollution, so no matter where your lodging or campground is, you should have a good chance to see the aurora if the three factors above all line up for you.

If you are traveling elsewhere in Alaska, it may be possible to see the aurora from within Fairbanks or Anchorage if the aurora is particularly active.

Learn More About the Aurora

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    Last updated: January 21, 2020

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