The Northern Lights have always been a mystical, magical wonder of the world. They appear, then disappear. You might see them, you might not. There is something about chasing down the enigmatic Northern Lights that makes the phenomenon so intriguing.
According to Canada’s Northern Lights Centre, the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis in the northern hemisphere or “dawn of the north,” are the result of gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere colliding with charged particles from the sun’s atmosphere.
For the best opportunity at seeing the Northern Lights, go farther north during winter months. Winter provides a longer period of daily darkness making the lights more visible. As you travel north, your chance of encountering the lights will increase. This is because the Earth’s magnetic poles weaken the magnetic field around them and more of the sun’s particles enter the atmosphere there.
The more isolated an area is, the better. Bright lights and pollution only hinder a possible viewing experience. In North America, it’s easiest to see the Northern Lights in Alaska and Canada’s Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut provinces but they have also been observed as far south as New Orleans.
Here are the best places in Michigan to see the Northern Lights in action:
- Keweenaw Peninsula: The slogan for the Keweenaw Peninsula is “Michigan’s Top of the World,” so it makes sense you could see the Northern Lights from here. Secluded with an expansive coastline, Aurora Borealis fans know this is an optimal viewing experience.
- Marquette: Marquette is the largest city in the U.P. but has nearly zero light pollution. Nestled along Lake Superior, Marquette has miles of public coastline that are perfect to see the Northern Lights.
- Headlands International Dark Sky Park: Two miles west of Mackinaw City, this charming park sits along Lake Michigan. Though there are more lights in the Lower Peninsula, the Dark Sky Park somewhat cancels out that notion.
The Northern Lights are tricky to plan for and often unpredictable. Let us know your tips for tracking the Northern Lights in the comments section below.
If you liked this post, be sure to check out:
- Hiking in Michigan: Where to Go and How to Start
- 5 of the Lower Peninsula’s Most Beautiful Bike Routes
- Michigan Water and Boating: Summer Safety
Photo credit: MingayPhoto.
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