Pack your parka, the northern lights will soon shimmer through the night skies over Canada. Also known as the aurora borealis, this celestial display is normally best seen just inside the Arctic or Antarctic Circle, which is much easier to reach by heading north than south.
The heavenly light show results from ionized oxygen and nitrogen particles colliding with solar wind particles and accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines. The collision produces light as energy is released. Oxygen emissions produce green or redish light depending on the energy involved. Nitrogen is responsible for vibrant blues and reds shimmering fifty miles above the Earth’s surface.
Watching the aurora borealis is an experience you’ll never forget. Waves of light glide across the night sky, rolling past in unpredictable patterns from east to west. Many refer to the pattern as curtains, because the rays are lined up parallel to each other along the magnetic field lines.
The best way to view the Northern Lights is through a tour package – tour operators know where and when the best viewing occurs, and are prepared to keep visitors comfortable outdoors through frigid Canadian nights. Some of the top locations are also quite difficult or expensive to reach when travelling alone.
One popular tour is “The Aurora Escape” package created by The Great Canadian Travel Company, a five-day/four-night itinerary to the Canadian subarctic. The package starts in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories, a city known for attractions such as Old Town and spectacular views from Bush Pilot’s Monument, honoring the brave pilots who overcame harsh conditions and frigid temperatures to deliver cargo, enabling the area to grow.
After a first night in Yellowknife, the trip continues via a short charter flight on a float plane to Blachford Lake Lodge. Two night’s accommodations are included there, as well as daily interpretive tours, gourmet meals, and of course, excellent viewing of the Northern Lights (no guarantees, of course, but a pretty safe bet). The final night is spent back in Yellowknife.
Visiting the Northwest Territories
More information on the Northwest Territories is available by visiting their website or calling 800-661-0788. Complete information on “The Aurora Escape” package can be found online; contact The Great Canadian Travel Company at 800-661-3830. Since the package does not include travel to Yellowknife, those flights may be found on AirCanada.