When Can You See the Northern Lights in Minnesota?
People will travel for days and thousands of miles to view the awe-inspiring light show known as the northern lights. Those hoping to witness this magical experience in person often visit Canada, Alaska, or Scandinavia to catch a glimpse of these ethereal multi-colored hues in the sky.
Knowing when you can see the northern lights, then, is essential, regardless of mileage or final destination.
Located right on the shores of Pelican Lake, Birch Forest Lodge has dark, clear nights and wide open skies perfect for viewing a meteor shower or the aurora borealis.
Because we want to give our guests the best chance possible to see the northern lights, we’ll help you understand the ideal atmospheric conditions needed to increase your chances of witnessing this phenomenon!
Are the Northern Lights Visible in Northern Minnesota?
Not only is it possible to see the Northern Lights in Minnesota, but 2023 and 2024 are predicted to have more visible displays of the aurora borealis than in the past two decades.
Typically, these light shows are finicky and don’t follow a schedule. It’s possible to see them at any time during the year, although you’re more likely to experience this phenomenon during certain conditions and times of the year.
When Can I See the Northern Lights in Minnesota?
The best time of year to see the northern lights in Minnesota is during periods of extended darkness.
Optimal conditions like lack of cloud cover and light pollution will also determine whether you’re able to see the northern lights. Your best chance to enjoy this experience is during the months of April, August, September, and October.
These months offer plenty of dark hours, low levels of light pollution because they don’t fall around major holidays or peak vacation times, and they have a higher probability of providing you with the ideal atmospheric conditions necessary to witness this mystical event.
How Often Are Northern Lights Visible?
Technically, the northern lights could appear many times throughout the year.
However, this is a delicate phenomenon that requires ideal conditions to see. While you may see a vivid burst of green and purple hues during the late summer months, they usually won’t last long.
If you want to catch this phenomenon in an inviting mood where you can watch for a while and photograph the northern lights, you’ll need to plan ahead.
Aim to visit during the late fall or spring, and try to plan your visit during a new moon. The new moon stage creates an extra dark night, giving you the best chance to see the northern lights in action!
Tips to See the Northern Lights
Aside from planning your trip during the correct time of year and moon phase, there are other things you can do to increase your chances of seeing the northern lights in Minnesota.
First, it’s helpful to understand what factors contribute to a long-lasting and mesmerizing display of the aurora borealis.
The lights we see in the sky are one manifestation of geomagnetic storms or activity. Interactions between the solar wind system flowing out from the sun and the Earth’s magnetosphere, or protective magnetic field, form the aurora.
Another factor that can contribute to a powerful display of the northern lights is the sun’s solar flares. One type of solar flare, called a coronal mass ejection (or CME), can create powerful episodes of the northern lights because they cause a geomagnetic storm.
You can use plenty of resources online to help track the northern lights and related weather events like solar flares. SpaceWeather and the Space Weather Prediction Center keep track of solar wind speeds and flares and provide explanations and data to help you make sense of the science.
We also keep track of the latest northern lights news to give our guests extra resources, tips, and tricks to make their experience unforgettable. These resources can help you plan your perfect trip to Northern Minnesota and give you the best chance possible at seeing a powerful northern lights event.
Visit Birch Forest Lodge for the Best Aurora Borealis Views
Even if you come during a time when there isn’t a high likelihood of a northern lights display, you’re still likely to see a meteor shower while you lay under the stars. Contact us today to start planning your next vacation surrounded by the best nature northern Minnesota offers.