2012-2013 is the best time for a decade to see the Aurora Borealis, or ‘northern lights’. Why? It’s not just because it was on Frozen Planet, it’s because the solar activity is at its maximum, so there are more geomagnetic storms in space, and stuff like that. Anyway, the Aurora Borealis is cool, but seeing it isn’t easy. Skyscanner suggests six places to see it for yourself, and other stuff to do if the lights aren’t coming out to play.
1. Fairbanks, Alaska
You cannot guarantee seeing the northern lights, even at the North Pole on a clear night in January, but Alaska is pretty good. Improve your chances by going on an organised tour such as with Go Alaska Tours who’ll take you way above the Arctic Circle in search of the lights. All you have to do is get yourself to Anchorage. If you want to do more than gaze at the night sky, their tours include other activities like sled dog tours, cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, or a trip on the Alaska Winter Snow Train through mountains from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Find flights to Anchorage
2. Yellowknife, Canada
You could save money by doing it yourself and simply going to a likely location for seeing the lights. So head to the ‘northern lights capital of the world’, the city of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories. You’re in the right place – all you need is a warm coat and a starry, starry night. Get inspired with some rather pretty photos of the Aurora, and lots of info, from Astronomy North. While you are waiting for the lights to perform, indulge in a spot of shopping – Yellowknife is also known as the ‘diamond capital of North America’. William and Kate received a polar bear-shaped brooch and cufflinks, containing 692 locally-mined diamonds between them, when they visited last year. Find flights to Yellowknife
3. Reykjavik, Iceland
Possibly the most accessible, affordable place where you’ve got a good chance of seeing the lights is Iceland. Lying on the edge of the Arctic Circle, Iceland is however only a three-hour flight from London. Easyjet are set to start a service from London Luton to Reykjavik, but this only operates from late March to late October, outside the peak Aurora season. It is possible to see the lights from Reykjavik itself, or head to the infamous Eyjafjajokull volcano to see them in a particularly dramatic setting. While you’re there, take a dip in the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an hour from Reykjavik. Find flights to Iceland
4. Ivalo, Finland
The frozen north of Lapland is a seriously spectacular place to see the northern lights. To give yourself every chance of success, head to Ivalo in northern Finland and hook up with Andy Keen of Aurora Hunters. For £150, he’ll take you out for a night in search of the fabled phenomenon. With several years of photographing the Aurora, he’s got a proven track record of successful Aurora hunting. By day, the scenery in this part of the world is also pretty amazing, so when you’re not hunting, go hiking amongst the wilderness of Urho Kekkonen National Park. Find flights to Ivalo
5. From your window
In times of greatest Aurora activity, you may be lucky enough to see the northern lights from your window! It helps if you live away from the polluting light of the city, and in the far north of Scotland. Even if you don’t, keep an eye on AuroraWatch UK, who monitor geomagnetic activity and will let you know when aurora may be visible from the UK.
6. From space
If you can somehow get a lift to the International Space Station, you should get a good (and unique) view from there, with the added bonus of checking out the Aurora Australis – the ‘southern lights’. Find flights to space (err?… Ed)