The northern lights are predicted to dim for the next decade, making it much harder to see them on a clear, starry night up North.
Don’t worry, they are not disappearing. They’re just muting their vivid glory for a decade, kind of like Adele taking a four year break from the music industry. Except for ten years instead of four. It’s okay, we’ll survive… I hope.
According to Peter Delamere, associate professor of space physics at the Geophysical Institute, the northern lights are beginning their downward leg of a natural 11-year solar cycle. Solar activity, including enormous solar eruptions, can happen anytime and produce intense aurora, but they are unpredictable and irregular.
Aurora borealis, the phenomenon otherwise known as the northern lights, will begin to dim after 2016. The effect is estimated to last until 2024 or even 2026. During that time, the lights will be less frequent and bright. Currently, the lights are a bit like a groundhog in February–not quite sure whether it should pop its head out or not. Conditions required to see the lights include a clear night sky and the lights’ willingness to show up.
Thankfully, the northern lights will still be putting on a spectacular show through Winter 2016, so start planning your trip now.
The best places to see the northern lights before they dim, and probably after:
A great choice for North American dwellers. There are many options to get yourself to Alaska in the next year: cruise, fly, or drive. Fairbanks is the suggested destination to get the best show and not freeze.
Another option that’s close to home. In the city of Churchill, Natural Habitat Adventures offers an aurora pod made of glass and a view of the lights waving over polar bears and lots of ice. While you’re in Northern Canada, check out dog-sledding and any kind of skiing you can dream up.
One of my personal favorite countries in the world. In the summer, Scotland’s so far north, the sun doesn’t set till close to midnight. In the winter, the darkness is all encompassing. Head toward Inverness or the Coast of Caithness.
Beautiful in summer and winter, Norway offers great views of the northern lights. You can go so far North here that you can also experience the Polar Night–a 24 hour-long night.
The most infamous place too view the lights because of its fantastically luxurious accommodations–personal igloos. Sit under fur blankets and view the beautiful phenomenon from the comfort of a very warm bed.
Head over to Iceland, not only to see the northern lights, but also to explore the seat of the North from the hit HBO show Game of Thrones. Now, if I can find Jon Snow out there, I’ll be set for life.
If you’re looking to catch the northern lights before they dim, or any time, make sure to check the aurora forecast before you go.