If you have watched The Golden Compass and other films that have featured the wintery regions of the Earth’s northern continent of ice, you might have already gotten a glimpse of the famous Northern Lights. Summer camps and dark forests may offer you a stunning view of the universe when you go stargazing – mapping out constellations and pointing out the changes in their position as the season’s pass. However, if you are really looking to view and experience firsthand the beauty of the mysterious shifting lights of the Aurora, there are only certain places that you could go to witness their majesty. One such locale is Churchill, Manitoba in Canada – a town located in the subarctic region of the country near the Hudson Bay. They have a 300-day window for tourists who would like to check off seeing the northern lights from their bucket lists.
All About the Northern Lights
The beautiful and exotic phenomena of the Aurora has a scientific explanation. The shifting lights playing in the sky are actually storms that are geomagnetic in nature. They originate from the sun’s solar winds that make their way to our planet Earth. However, the Earth is protected by a magnetic field, so the solar winds collide with various atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. Protons from the collision are the light source of the Aurora, which can be seen by the naked eye.
The Northern Lights cannot just be seen anywhere in the world. They can only be viewed in a particular area called the Aurora Oval – directly beneath of which is the town of Churchill. Aside from the location itself, the area should also be free from light pollution, clear, undisturbed skies, and of course, increased solar activity from the sun. Even under the Aurora Oval zone, the best time to view the lights would be during the cold months, especially in February and March, where there are lesser cloud covers.
Various Ways to Enjoy the Northern Lights
When you visit the town of Churchill for the Northern Lights, multiple places are explicitly recommended for this activity. The first is from Churchill Northern Studies Centre, which is located 30 minutes outside the town proper. They offer many affordable viewing options from the outdoor observation deck to a unique heated dome situated at the top of the building’s spiral staircase. The center actually turns off all its lights at midnight so that viewers could have an unspoiled view of the Northern Lights.
If you are looking for a more comfortable setting when watching the lights, you can avail the services of the Frontiers North Adventures which departs from Winnipeg. They have a special vehicle called the Tundra Buggy to bring the guests to the Aurora Lounge near the frozen banks and waters of the Churchill River. Guests can view the Northern Lights from the lounge, the observational deck, or an open area after disembarking from the buggy. Natural Habitat Adventures also offers viewing experiences from their Aurora Pods. They are made up of glass walls and roofs along with comfortable cushioned seats which are designed to give tourists a 360-degree view of the night sky and enjoy the dancing lights of the Aurora.