Updated: Mar 5
Are you wondering how to determine if tonight is going to be a good night to go out Aurora chasing? Here is everything you need to know to catch the mystical Aurora Borealis in Fairbanks Alaska.
Before I jump into this in detail I want to let you know the #1 easiest way determine your chances of viewing the Aurora you need the My Aurora Forecast & Alerts APP. Click HERE to download it. This is a great resource that I use on a daily basis and a MUST if you are chasing the Norther Lights. It is FREE to use and seems to be very accurate.
There are three main elements that go into determining your chances of viewing the Magical Aurora Borealis.
CLEAR SKYS - in order to look up through the atmosphere to see the lights with an unobstructed view you will want a clear sky for the best Aurora viewing. You can view the lights through light cloud coverage however the more clear the sky is the clearer the lights will be. A helpful resource for viewing cloud coverage is DarkSky Forecast Cloud Coverage Map. Click HERE to view it. Of course if you have the Aurora app it will tell you the cloud coverage % as well.
DARK SKYS - Once you determine that the cloud coverage is acceptable to you will want to find some locations to view the Aurora from that are unobstructed by city lights. The city lights will make it difficult to photograph the aurora as well as view it. In locations where there are no light pollution the night sky will become alive! An easy way to determine if your B&B or when finding areas with low light pollution is THE LIGHT POLLUTION MAP click HERE to view. I also have written a exlent blog post revealing some fantastic locations with low or no light pollution in Fairbanks AK. Click HERE to view. (top 5 self aurora viewing locations in Fairbanks blog post)
AURORA ACTIVITY - So we have determined that we have clear sky’s with low or no clouds and we have picked out some locations to view the Northern Lights from with no light pollution obstruction our view. Now we need to determine if the Aurora will even show its self. The way we do this by using the KP Index which in simple terms measures the Aurora storm on a scale from 1-9. We have had great success with anything over a KP 1. Of course the bigger the number the more intense the Aurora will be. The BEST resource for tracking Aurora activity in Alaska is the University of Alaska’s Geophysical Institute Aurora Forecast. Check it out by clicking HERE (https://www.gi.alaska.edu/monitors/aurora-forecast)
While these are the main determining factors when viewing the aurora there are also a few other things to keep in mind such as the moon cycles. For example when there is a full moon it is very bright and dose take away from the brightness of the aurora. So the perfect Aurora viewing storm would be on a night with a new moon, no clouds and a high KP prediction. We love chasing the Aurora Borealis here in Fairbanks and offer a very exclusive vip Aurora Tours in the Fairbanks Alaska area. If you would like to join us please check out the tours we offer HERE