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Northern Lights Prediction: Knowing When the Aurora Appears

Northern Lights Prediction: Knowing When the Aurora Appears

northern lights prediction

Strangely enough, the Northern Lights Prediction is hard to explain since so many processes need to happen in order to see the amazing lights.

This guide will help you know how to detect the Auroras.

The Solar Cycle

Every 11 years or so, the Sun starts another solar cycle. In the middle of the cycle, you can expect the most sunspots visible on the surface of the Sun, which means more Aurora activity during those years. As you can see in the following table, we have just passed the middle of the cycle which will be over by 2020.

Sun Solar Cycle Chart
Sun Solar Cycle Chart

Even though the best time to see the Northern Lights in this decade has passed, they still can be seen. The best time to observe them can be determined by the amount and size of sunspots on the Sun – the more and bigger they are, the more intense the Northern Lights would be.

How is the northern lights prediction aided by the sunspot?

The images below show the amount of spots on the sun currently.

Recognising the spots is helpful for the northern lights prediction. The Sun rotates around its axis once every 27-28 days as seen from the Earth. Because of this rotation, sunspots, are like a massive firehose releasing energy into space. This can be lasting for several months in a row.

If you have observed an active Aurora night, in 27-28 days you would probably be able to see the lights again. If that same sunspot is still active, it would have rotated around with the Sun. It would be in geo-effective position again – facing the Earth, and spreading the Lights.


SOHO EIT 195 Latest Image
SOHO EIT 195 – Updated Sun View
SOHO EIT 284 Latest Image
SOHO EIT 284 – Updated Sun View
Sun spots are visible if you block the sun
Blocked Sun – Updated View

What Time of the Night?

No doubt, the peak hours are between 11pm and 2am, however, anytime it’s dark enough, there is hope.

What Months of The Year?

Actually, the Aurora Borealis season in northern polar latitudes (Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Siberia) runs from August-thru-April. In this period the nights are actually dark, unlike the rest of the year. During the summer months of May, June and July,  Auroras can be spotted only south of 50° latitude.

The equinox months of September and March are best for Aurora activity. Also, winter months of October-thru-February can also be good.

Cool Northern Lights?

Contrary to the most common belief of people, when talking about the northern lights prediction, it is not necessary to be cold to see the Aurora. What really matters is the place to be dark, clear and in the northern part of the globe.

Map of areas you can see the northern light
Map of areas you can see the northern light

Furthermore, if you are interested in the northern lights prediction and you feel like predicting or want to predict your chance of seeing the Northern Lights,  you can use this table to read correctly the SPACE WEATHER PREDICTION CENTER report.

If the ap is over 35, and the kp is over 4, there is a chance to see the magical lights. The higher the numbers are, the better the chance to see them is. The highest ap is 400, and kp – 9.

27-day Space Weather Outlook Table
Quiet: 0 ≤ Ap < 10 usually no Kp indices > 2  
Unsettled: 10 ≤ Ap < 20 usually no Kp indices > 3  
Active: 20 ≤ Ap < 35 a few Kp indices of 4 
Minor Storm: 35 ≤ Ap < 60 Kp indices mostly 4 and 5 
Moderate Storm: 60 ≤ Ap < 100 some Kp indices of 6 
Strong Storm: 100 ≤ Ap < 160 some Kp indices of 7 
Severe Storm: 160 ≤ Ap < 310 some Kp indices of 8 and 9
Extreme Storm: 310 ≤ Ap some Kp indices of 9

Current Storm Status:           Current Storm Status

Current Solar X-ray Status: Solar X Ray Status

When the statuses above are green there is no possibility of seeing the Lights. In case they are yellow, there is some chance. The best is when they are red – it’s celebration time!

Want to check if the sky are clear tonight?

US Satellite Animation Map

Western Europe Satellite Animation Map

The 8 Northern Lights Facts: answering the aurora questions

The 8 Northern Lights Facts: answering the aurora questions

Northern Lights Facts
The Aurora Borealis Facts


You will find answers to a lot of your Northern Lights questions in this northern lights facts section.

You can read the facts and find answers to questions. Such as what are the Northern Lights? What Causes the Northern Lights?

The 8 northern lights facts you should know

  • The Northern Lights, which are a type of Aurora, often called a Polar Light, is all natural and seen in the sky. Usually seen in high-latitude areas, they are produced when a solar wind disturbs the magnetosphere, changing the trajectories of the charged particles found in magnetospheric plasma and solar wind, causing them to go up into the upper atmosphere. When this occurs, they emit a light of different complexities and colors.
  • As part of the northern lights facts, the Aurora Borealis are named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, and Boreas, which is the Greek name Galileo used for the north wind.
  • Polar Lights are also seen in the southern latitudes and known as the Aurora Australis, often referred to as the Southern Lights. Scientists have found that Aurora occurs on other planets as well.
  • First, you have to take a look at the sun, the yellow star that is at the very center of the solar system. As the sun rotates on its axis, the different magnetic fields of it twist and distort. When these fields are knotted together, then they can burst, and then create sunspots. In some cases, these sunspots may be several times the Earth’s diameter in size. The center of the sun reaches 27 million degrees F. As the surface temperature falls and rises, it bubbles and boils. From the sunspot regions on the sun’s surface, particles escape and plasma particles are hurtled into space. This is known as a solar wind.
  • Another aspect of the northern lights facts is that the Solar wind takes about 40 hours to get to the earth. Once it arrives, it has the ability to create the dramatic Northern lights.
  • The colors associated with the Northern lights are generally yellow, violet, pink, blue, and green. In some cases, white and orange. When particles collide with nitrogen, green and yellow colors are produced. Interactions with oxygen result in violet, blue, and red. The specific type of collision that occurs can also change the colors that are seen in the sky. Molecular nitrogen creates purple, while blue displays are caused by atomic nitrogen. Altitude also affects the colors. Violet and purple show up above 60 miles, blue – at altitudes of up to 60 miles, red – above 150 miles, and green – in 150 miles or below.
  • Radiation, magnetic waves and debris constantly bombard the Earth. In most cases, the magnetic field of our planet does a great job at deflecting these particles and rays. It also include those ones that are discharged from the sun. When particles are discharged from the sun, they travel approximately 93 million miles before they drawn to the magnetic poles of the Earth. Once there, they mingle with molecules and atoms of nitrogen, oxygen, and various other elements, which results in the amazing display of the Northern lights.
  • The Northern Lights are visible from space. You can best view it from the International Space Station (added photo).

The 8 northern lights facts can not be despised or overlooked. It helps you in knowing more about the amazing Aurora.

Dancing northern lights (aurora borealis)

Dancing northern lights (aurora borealis)

dancing northern lights
The dancing northern Lights


The auroras are one of the great wonders of the world produced solely by Mother Nature. Also known as the aurora borealis, it is a beautiful, natural light show that occurs in the atmosphere near the magnetic poles of the Earth. The dancing northern lights appear as a mesmerizing display of colors shifting and changing in the sky. You can only see the northern lights at nights when the sky is very clear. Here we’ll talk about what the auroras are, what causes them, and how you can find out where and when you can see them for yourself.

The aurora has been spectacular to humans for centuries, often appearing as an important part of the legends and myths of aboriginal peoples who lived in the north and south. The Northern Lights is one of the two most common names for the occurrence and the second name is ‘Aurora Borealis’. Of course, there is also a southern counterpart to the lights, called ‘Aurora Australis’. This name, quite predictably, comes from the latin for ‘southern lights’.

The science behind the dancing northern lights

So, let’s dive into the science behind these breathtaking arrays of light. The dancing Northern Lights are caused by gas particles in the atmosphere colliding into particles released by the sun. Basically, as protons and electrons from the sun move towards our planet, and as these heated particles enter our atmosphere, which is weaker nearest the magnetic poles, they smash into gas molecules. Then they emit gorgeous light hundreds of kilometers above the surface of the Earth. These little explosions from the collisions produce a beautiful show for us down here on the ground. This can be seen far in the sky. Different gas particles result in different colours. For example, nitrogen particles produce a bluish hue in the lights. Actually, other gasses create varying shades of red, yellow, purple, and green in an absolutely incredible display.

Because the atmosphere is weaker further in the far north and south of the atmosphere, these collisions only occur far in the northern and southern hemispheres. This means that you can almost exclusively see the lights in countries closest to the poles. Countries like Russia, Australia, Greenland, and Canada. Weather takes a role in our ability to view auroras. We obviously are unable to view them when clouds get in the way. Unfortunately, our own behavior affects the viewing experience too. Those who live near cities don’t often see the lights. This is due to the pollution produced nearby, much like how stars at night can almost never be seen in many cities. Sightseeing of the auroras is best from a rural area on a very clear night.

If you want the forecast for the close time don’t miss our post about Northern Lights Prediction.

You can get websites online that will tell you where the Aurora can be seen and on what nights if you want to enjoy this wonder yourself. Here are three sites that will give you a nice aurora alert to make sure you don’t miss the showing:

These sites are great tools for when you really just can’t bear to miss the next light show (although, if you live in northern Canada like I do, it’s often just a question of looking outside the window in the evening to know if there are any auroras nearby.)

Our world doesn’t offer much more attractive vistas than that of the Northern Lights in a clear sky. There aren’t many displays of beauty to be found, neither manmade nor natural, that compares to the beauty of the aurora. It serves as a beautiful display of what wonders our planet can create. It has captured the imaginations of many peoples throughout history. You should see the northern lights at least once in your lifetime, and they deserve to be admired in awe.