Minnesota is home to one of nature’s most spectacular phenomena: the Aurora Borealis – otherwise known as – The Northern Lights. People from around the world hold interesting views about these dancing lights that fill up the northern sky.
The Inuit believed that these were the spirits of the dead playing a game with one another. While people across Finland believed these lights were caused by a fire fox who ran across the northern sky, leaving a trail of fire burning in the night sky. Even today, there are stories parents often tell their kids that the northern lights are messages sent from another planet or bursts of colors reflecting off distant glaciers.
While, science explains these lights are caused by a collision between the gases in the earth’s atmosphere and the charged particles from the sun. These dancing lights shimmering across the northern sky appear when the earth is at certain latitudes.
Whatever the reason, it all boils down to one thing: The Aurora Borealis is a spectacular show of lights, and truly something you need to see to believe.
Nice that you have that trip planned up to Ely.
Some of the best ways you can see them.
You need to get away from the light pollution. There are a few places across the lower U.S. that are ideal for this. Fortunately, Northern Minnesota is one of the few gems where you can witness the mystical display of stars and the northern lights spanning across the dark sky. The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness has actually recently been designated a Dark Sky Sanctuary.
So, the first thing you have to do is to plan a trip up here to Ely.
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What’s the perfect time to see the Northern Lights?
Although Aurora Borealis can be seen throughout the year but is there a perfect time to witness these?
While it’s difficult to give a long-term forecast with any accuracy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) does have a smart tool that monitors atmospheric hemispheres and gives a 30 to 90 mins forecast for the northern lights.
Here in Ely, northern lights can be seen throughout the year, but they are more visible in the fall and winter. The longer nights mean there are more hours of darkness and more opportunity for you to see the lights. And the best place to see them is from across the water’s edge on any of the BWCAW lakes. Recent sun storm activity has most likely contributed to more Summertime appearance of the beautiful Aurora Borealis.
On a side note: We have a Guided Group Canoe Trip that is themed as Stargazing in the Boundary Waters. It is not specific to the northern lights but when you’re spending the week in the Northwoods watching the stars, who would have a better chance of joining the “dance?”
For some people who live here in Ely, looking out from their cabins or up from their campfire, watching the shimmery lights dance and cover the entire sky has become a more common occurrence. If you really want to see the waves of purple, white and green dance in the night sky this year, plan a trip to Ely to witness one of nature’s most spectacular shows.