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Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

Mar 9 , 2022 · 8 min read

If you get to witness the northern lights, you can consider yourself lucky. So many people have a dream to see the spectacular lights or hunt for them but fail.

They are a miracle of nature and one of the most amazing sights you’ll ever see. 

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

In Vancouver in British Columbia, you can sometimes catch a glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis. The best time is during winter, from December to March.

At times, the lights are so bright that they are even seen in the urban Vancouver areas despite the city lights and pollution, reducing visibility.

It is better to get slightly out of the city center where visibility is better. 

What Are The Northern Lights?

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

The northern lights, also called the aurora borealis, are stunning lights in the sky that have been admired by people around the world throughout history.

It is a show like no other, with bright, colorful greens, pinks, purple and yellow lights flashing across the night skies. 

What causes this natural wonder?

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

Energized sun particles enter the earth’s upper atmosphere at speeds of up to 45 million mph, but the earth’s magnetic field shields us. As a result, the particles are sent towards the poles, creating this renowned effect that we are all so fascinated by.

Galileo Galilei, an astronomer from Italy, gave the lights the name aurora borealis back in 1619. Aurora was the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas was the Greek god of the north wind.

This name is as enchanting as the sight of the lights. But the lights were recorded much earlier in history in various artworks, including a cave painting in France that is estimated to be 30,000 years old.

Many other cultures have included the lights in fables, myths and legends.

 

Getting Serious About Following The Lights

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

To increase your chances of seeing the lights, you can follow an aurora borealis app like My Aurora Forecast or Aurora Alerts. These handy apps follow the auroral activity in real-time and send you alerts when the lights could be visible.

Clear skies and darkness are the ideal weather conditions and these apps will tell you when The Weather Man is on your side. The most accurate forecasts are 30-60 minutes before the event, so it often pays to check the apps.

Many keen Aurora Borealis watchers have several apps loaded on their phones as the apps sometimes give varying predictions. 

Since the Aurora Borealis is so popular, you might hear it on the news if especially great conditions are coming up.

You can join the UBC Astronomy Club in Vancouver, and there are other astronomy groups and meetups with many members who are always following the latest aurora borealis Vancouver news.

Where To See The Lights In Vancouver And The Surrounding Areas

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

Outside of the city, where the skies are darker, you have the best chance of seeing the colorful dancing lights that ignite the skies. Porteau Cove Provincial Park is a popular place for Northern light spotting.

It’s not too far from the city (less than an hour to drive) and if you stay overnight, you can have some beach time the following day. Further afield, about three hours drive from the city, you have Sakinaw Lake off the Sunshine Coast.

Photos taken of the lights in that area are awe-inspiring, and if you have time, it’s worth the drive to get to this awesome spot. As you head further north, you increase your chances of seeing the lights. 

To see the lights, you will have to forget your beauty sleep. Set aside 3-4 hours around midnight for the highest chances of seeing the lights. They can be seen earlier in the evening or in the very early hours of the morning too, but less often. 

Metro Vancouver

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

If you can’t get out of the metro area but still feel hopeful about seeing the aurora borealis, your dreams can still come true. Go to areas that are less densely populated and lit up.

People report seeing the lights from the city’s outskirts when the weather conditions are perfect. 

Photographing the Aurora Borealis in Vancouver

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

Professional photographers will explain the Northern Lights look different when documented with a DSLR camera compared with what you see with your naked eye. The reason is our eyes can’t see low light in the same way as a camera does.

So when you see a jaw-dropping gorgeous image of the lights, it may be genuine but captured with a high ISO and long exposure time, meaning it didn’t look like that to the photographer either. 

It is a hobby that takes patience and could last a lifetime since getting that shot-of-a-lifetime won’t happen the first time you photograph the lights. The lights move at different speeds, so you need to estimate your exposure times and practice a lot for the best results.

Slow auroras need longer exposures than fast-moving or dancing auroras that could be caught in shorter exposures. You can also raise your ISO, but this risks your images becoming grainy.

You will need a tripod, warm clothing, a seat, snacks and hot drinks to keep you going. You will need a lot of stamina and the patience of a saint, but the rewards could be worth it when your photos end up in National Geographic one day. 

More To See And Do In Vancouver

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

When you are not looking for the light show of all light shows, there is plenty more to see and do in Vancouver. You can enjoy the great shopping, restaurants and nightlife on offer.

In winter, which is the best time to catch the lights, there are also many activities like ice skating and winter hikes to try out. 

The Vancouver Aquarium is open all winter with many exciting exhibits to see, including the lovable penguins and sea lions. The Amazon rainforest exhibit is always popular in winter too.

On Saturday during the winter months, you can stock up on food, drinks and all kinds of goodies at the Nat Bailey Stadium and Riley Park Plaza.

Everything you can imagine is for sale, including locally-grown fruits, vegetables and products like bread, honey and desserts. If you need gifts for friends and family back home, this is the perfect place for unique souvenirs.

You could catch an ice hockey game, visit art galleries and museums, see a show or band or just chill out in your luxury accommodation.

Sleep-ins are almost mandatory when you’ve stayed up late looking for the elusive northern lights, so you will have to book a nice room with all the comforts of home so you are recharged and ready to head out in search of the lights the following evening. 

More locations for spotting the Northern Lights during the right conditions

Best Time To See Aurora Borealis Vancouver

Good luck seeing the amazing atmospheric phenomenon known as the Northern Lights. If you do see the aurora borealis Vancouver, you will be impressed. It might spark an interest in traveling to other places in hopes of seeing the lights.

There are many great places in Canada and around the world if you are serious about sky watching. 

The Northern Lights can be elusive and this is part of the adventure of traveling to a destination where they are often seen.

If you are planning a trip that includes scanning the skies for the Northern Lights, you want a place where you can still have fun if you don’t see them.

It is impossible to guarantee a sighting of the lights, so your travel plans should include other activities, so your trip is worthwhile if the lights aren’t turned on.

America, Alaska, the Nordic region (Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Greenland and Åland), Estonia, Russia and Scotland are all well-known aurora borealis light destinations.

Just like some people chase the sun, there are people who chase the northern lights. Traveling with a group of dedicated aurora borealis seekers can be an exciting way to explore the world. 

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The face of travel is changing rapidly. We are proudly leading the industry with an innovative and flexible Book Now, Pay Later option.

You can buy the air ticket and vacation packages by putting down a small deposit to secure the services and pay the balance in installments.

Flexibility and savings are just some of the benefits of flying with Trip Support.

You can book now and pay later and go to Honolulu in Hawaii with Trips Support. Get your pay later flight to Hawaii by Trip Support today!

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