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Northern Lights | The Best Time to See The Show



Are the aurora borealis viewings on the rise? In recent months, alerts have increased for the northern lights (aurora borealis). We did a little research, and the science shows that more northern lights will be visible for the next few years. Woo Hoo! The lights will also be visible farther south than normal which is great news for most of Minnesota and creates even stronger, brighter displays for the north shore. Northern Lights are created when solar wind from the sun’s surface is blocked by the earth’s magnetic field. When some ions from the solar wind are temporarily trapped and collide with our atmosphere, it creates the light show we all love to stay up late to see. In addition, the sun’s magnetic fields flip on an average 11-year cycle with the ‘solar maximum’ expected in 2025. Because of that, we’ll be treated to an increase until then. 

When Can I View the Northern Lights? Typically, the best time to see them is in the spring and fall, close to the equinox. The good news is we’ll continue to get more alerts for the northern lights in the summer and winter for the next couple of years. There is a good chance to see them year-round! You can keep an eye on the current aurora forecast through NOAA HERE.

Where Can I View the Northern Lights? Looking north/northeast over Lake Superior from any of the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts properties is usually a great way to view the spectacular show. Viewing the Northern Lights over a lake is ideal because of the large amount of unobstructed visible sky. Even if you aren’t by a lake, the show is still visible and worth the watch due to the relative darkness in all of Cook County. Most people can step out onto their accommodations' north/northeast side, turn off the outside lights, and see the sky dancing! 

We’ve discovered that taking a photo of the northern lights can help capture the intense blues, greens, and purples that aren’t always visible to the eye. If you want to capture the show with your smartphone, here are a few tips: 

  • Use a tripod or stable surface for the best images. If you only have the option to hold your phone, we recommend being firmly planted and holding your breath while the shutter is open.
  • Turn the flash off.

  • Make sure your phone is switched to dark or night mode. It should automatically switch to this while in the dark but double-check this is on. 

  • Adjust the dark/night mode to the longest shutter speed available. This may be 3-10 seconds, depending on your phone. 

Ready to plan a trip to the North Shore? Start HERE