The Phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis

Jan 24, 2014
Winter in the Canadian Rockies does not just mean snow, mulled wine, tree-hugging and hibernating.

It is also the season of great opportunity for viewing the Aurora Borealis, known as the Northern Lights. Commonly seen in northern latitudes, we have been very fortunate to have seen and experienced this spectacular phenomenon in Banff this past fall, and there is every chance the auroras will be on display again this winter when the conditions are right.

The movements of the auroras can be best described as a curtain being blown by a slow and steady breeze and can be quite breathtaking to see with your own eyes. The further north you are, the greater chance you will witness this amazing natural wonder.

Attempting to be simple and straight forward, the Aurora Borealis occurs when solar wind that emits from the Sun manages to makes it way to the Earth’s atmosphere. The collision of this solar wind with the Earth’s magnetic field forms a magnetosphere. When the solar wind is strong and fast enough, this excess ’energy’ forms particles of light that often glows a vibrant green and sometimes even red and purple. There are millions of these particles circulating in our atmosphere, and as a result, some of these collisions are brighter than others to the point where they can be seen with the naked eye!

To see the Northern Lights, conditions need to be dark and away from artificial lights of a town or city that may weaken the "brightness" of the Aurora Borealis. In addition, the skies need to be clear, as the auroras can often occur behind a blanket of cloud unknowingly to us on the ground.

Brewster Vacations Canada is pleased (and fortunate) to offer packages that include aurora viewing at the following destinations:

Fort McMurray, Alberta
Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
Whitehorse, Yukon
Coldfoot, Alaska (via Fairbanks)

Do you want to see the Aurora Borealis and the Canadian Rockies? We have combo packages available from Calgary and Edmonton.

Tip: Great places to see this amazing spectacle near the town of Banff are on the shores of Lake Minnewanka or Two Jack Lake.

Random Trivia: Alternatively, there is also the Southern Lights phenomenon – known as the Aurora Australis.
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