It’s always northern lights season in Minnesota

It’s always northern lights season in Minnesota

"The Aurora Borealis"

With the numerous amounts of lakes in Minnesota, their south shores are prime real estate to view the northern lights by looking north over the lake.

Although there is no "best" season to view the northern lights, weather does affect the light activity. What you want to know is space weather, primarily the solar wind stream and solar flares of the sun. According to the popular science website howstuffworks, the aurora borealis occurs, “when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with elements in the Earth’s atmosphere. As the electrons enter the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they will encounter atoms of oxygen and nitrogen at altitudes of 20 to 200 miles above the Earth’s surface. The color of the aurora depends on which atom is struck, and the altitude of the meeting.”

Another factor to consider is light pollution. Make sure your viewing spot isn't affected by light pollution from urban areas. 

A few of the best spots in northern Minnesota for catching the aurora borealis:

  • Cook County visitors can frequently see the northern lights and Milky Way shining over Lake Superior and along the Gunflint Trail.
  • Voyageurs National Park offers expansive views of unpolluted skies from its waterways, where visitors can see impressive meteor showers and northern lights shows.
  • Lake of the Woods and the Northwest Angle, where there is a panoramic view of the waters and forests by day and, sometimes, the Milky Way and northern lights by night. Separated from the rest of Minnesota by Lake of the Woods, the Northwest Angle is the northernmost point in the continental U.S.

Outside of northern Minnesota, other destinations across the state, remote and urban alike, provide ideal stargazing conditions:

  • In the mid- and southern parts of the state—including Park Rapids, St. Cloud, Stillwater, Lake City, Mankato and Rochester—locals can see constellations on any clear night, and these cities have been known to host an occasional northern lights display.
  • Just miles from downtown Minneapolis, Silverwood Park hosts after-dark events for visitors to explore and learn about the fascinating things that occur outside after the sun sets.

Image credit: VisitCookCounty

Source, credits, and more information: Explore MN

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