Aurora Borealis and Star Gazing

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


Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

The aurora is a beautiful, if hard to predict, phenomenon, occurring year-round. Only in the fall, winter and early spring, however, is there enough darkness to allow us to see the northern lights when they occur.

By the second week of August, the night sky is dark enough to potentially allow views of the aurora. The amount of darkness increases each night, as Denali turns farther and farther away from the sun.

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    snowy landscape under a night sky filled with stars
    A winter night sky view at Wonder Lake

    NPS Photo / Jacob W Frank


    With long hours of darkness, the fall, winter and early spring can be a fantastic time to view stars in Denali.

    By the second week of August, the skies are dark enough to allow some great views of the night sky from midnight until two or three in the morning. Denali loses daylight rapidly in late August and September, so that you need not be a night-owl to enjoy the night sky by late September.

    The long hours of darkness continue through early April, though by the end of that month the sun is making its stunning, and often welcome, return; and it eventually obscures all glimpses of the stars during the summer months.

    Last updated: July 17, 2019

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