August 30th, 2016 | By MaryBeth McKenzie | Filed in Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
The legendary Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are one of the most beautiful and spectacular natural phenomena in the world, visible in the higher latitudes of the Northern hemisphere.
Viewing this natural light show is easier than you’d think! From August to May, the Northern Lights bejewel the night sky in the Canadian Arctic, against a backdrop of incredible scenery and possible rare wildlife sightings.
What causes the Northern Lights?
World-renowned as one of nature’s most incredible wonders, the shimmering lights of the aurora are the result of collisions
between electrically charged particles. Gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.
The Northern Lights appear in many colours including red, yellow, green, blue and violet, and can appear in many forms including patches or scattered clouds, streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays, lighting up the sky.
Different altitudes and types of gas particles that collide cause the variations in colour
. The most common auroral colour is a pale yellowish-green. This display is caused by oxygen molecules located approximately 96 km (60 miles) above the earth. Blue or purple-red auroras are created by nitrogen, and though rare, all-red auroras are produced by oxygen at a high altitude, at heights of up to 321 km (200 miles).
When and where can I see them?
Seen both in the northern and southern hemisphere, the Aurora occur in an irregularly-shaped oval centered over each magnetic pole – the auroral oval. In the north, it is known as the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis in the south.
The best places to watch the lights in North America are in the northwestern parts of Canada – including Nunavut. Smaller communities and remote locations without light pollution are great for watching the aurora displays – one of the reasons we love the Canadian Arctic!
These dancing light shows are most clearly seen at night against a dark sky
. With long periods of darkness and a higher frequency of clear nights, winter is a great season to view the Northern Lights in the north.
Here are six ways to witness the magic of the Northern Lights in the Canadian Arctic:
Our Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Photo Safari
provides an incredible off-the-grid experience to witness the Northern Lights in October and November. This seven-day trip offers exclusive opportunities to view polar bears up-close during the day and dazzling Northern Lights at night, in the comfort of our remote Polar Bear Cabins, located 110 km south of Arviat, Nunavut, on the coast of Hudson Bay.
View trip details and departures for 2016 and 2017 here
This photo safari takes you into the heart of the high eastern Arctic, where travellers seldom go, in March and April. See the Northern Lights at night after spending the days capturing amazing photos of polar bears close-up, as they venture on to the sea ice and climb majestic icebergs on this nine-day trip.
View trip details and departures for 2017 here
This lodge-based expedition provides the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights at night after days viewing polar bear cubs and their mothers at a close proximity. Located in the world’s largest polar bear denning area in Wapusk National Park, Manitoba, travellers can experience this 10-day trip in March.
View trip details and departures for 2017 here
Get a front-row seat to watch the magical Northern Lights at this remote and rustic lodge, located deep in the Canadian wilderness of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. This trip has options of four to nine night packages, from December to April.
View trip details and departures for 2016 and 2017 here
For travellers short on time, our exclusive getaways take you above the treeline in Iqaluit for an accessible, family-friendly Arctic escape. Our Arctic Weekend Getaway
and Taste of the Arctic Spring
provide opportunities to see the Northern Lights from October to April. Only 3 hours' flight from Ottawa, Canada.
Want to see the Northern Lights but not sure which trip is for you?
to get in touch with one of our Travel Advisors - they are happy to help!
Want to create your own Northern Lights adventure?
to ask about custom trips.
November 12th, 2014 | By Prisca Campbell | Filed in Featured Trip, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, Photographers
Jason Hillier, lover of Northern Lights, kept a journal while sailing for 17 days aboard our charter vessel M V Cap Race.
Northern Lights through rigging
Northern Lights at sea
From Makkovik, recharged we sailed through the Strait of Belle Isle. Labrador was on our starboard and the island of Newfoundland was on the port side. I was tantalizing close to home, but not close enough. Throughout the voyage, the Northern Lights could be seen dancing in the sky.
One strong advantage to chartering a vessel to sail exactly when and where you want is creating outstanding photo opportunities. I will return home with an amazing collection of pictures of Northern Lights over the Atlantic Ocean.
From the Strait of Belle Isle we sailed for two days, observing dolphins, whales and countless seabirds, including the colourful puffin. We arrived in the French port of Ste. Pierre the morning of September 17. Yes, you read that right, France. Off the south coast of Newfoundland, Ste. Pierre and Miquelon are two islands owned by France. Visiting this little bit of Europe in North America was a unique way to end a spectaculair sail tthrough the Arctic and along the east coast of Canada.
November 7th, 2014 | By Prisca Campbell | Filed in Current Trips, Diving, Filmmakers, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
Aboard our charter vessel M V Cape Race, Jason Hillier, one of Arctic Kingdom's senior Team Members, spent 17 days sailing from Baffin Island to Newfoundland. He shared his log entries with us.
Northern Lights from our charter vessel MV Cape Race
September 2, 2014 - at sea on charter vessel M V Cape Race
With two quick dives under our belts, on Day 2 we leave Qikiqtarjuaq, the iceberg capital of Nunavut, in fine style as a dazzling display of Northern Lights dance in the night sky. Our charter vessel, MV Cape Race, will sail all night to the next dive site on Baffin Island. "Qik" is the location of our Polar Bears and Glaciers of Baffin Island Safari.
The hamlet is one of the best places to see icebergs in Nunavut.
Our next land fall will be the Torngat Mountains, a few days sail away. Torngat is a corruption of the Inuktituk word Torngait, meaning "places of spirit." Torngat Mountains National Park is one of the most remote in Canada's national park system. During the summer, visitors must either charter a vessel or a plane. During the winter, access is possible by snowmobile.
MV Cape Race is available for charter for private expedition cruising, research or film making anywhere in the world.
September 6th, 2014 | By Prisca Campbell | Filed in Arctic Animals, Featured Trip, Filmmakers, Films, Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis, Trips
Walking with Grizzlies
Have you seen Disneynature's Bears
? Filmed in Alaska, it follows a mother and her two cubs from the time they emerge from the den until they return to that den a year later. Alastair Fothergill co-directed and co-wrote the documentary. His pedigree as a wildlife documentary is long and distinguished. He began in the renowned BBC Natural History department working with Sir David Attenborough. So you don't have to take my word that Bears
is worth spending an afternoon on the couch with the family and a bowl of popcorn.
Make your own documentary - about Grizzly Bears
You are right to be skeptical about your ability to equal the quality of Bears
, but that doesn't mean you can't make a wildlife documentary. Digital cameras - and smartphones - shoot HD video. You can edit your footage on your home computer. You can even add soundtrack music and titles. If you are shouting at your tablet screen, "Yes I can do that, but there's no way I can get as close to bears as professional documentary makers," desist. Because you can! Really.
The picture to above is proof. The video we shot at the grizzly bear camp is further proof. Watch the grizzly bears here
Make your own documentary - about Polar Bears
Now that I have convinced you that you can make your own wildlife documentaries, let me amp the excitement up a notch. Make a documentary about polar bears. Yes, you can get close enough to shoot polar bears and live. We can make it happen for you. We have the video to prove it. Watch the polar bears here
January 27th, 2013 | By Jason Hillier | Filed in Northern Lights - Aurora Borealis
1) What Are The Northern Lights?
Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun as a result of solar flares. Solar flares are explosions ejected by the Sun. These flares contain charged particles and if they head towards Earth, carried on a solar wind, Earth’s magnetic fields divert them.
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Most of the particles disappear into space but if some enter our upper atmosphere, around the Polar Regions where those magnetic fields converge, then these charged particles react with the gases found there. These magnetic fields create auroral ovals around the top and bottom of our planet which move and distort as the Earth rotates and solar flare activity increases. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.
Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow. You have to be within an auroral oval for a chance of seeing this particle/gas reaction hence why you need to travel north.
2) When and where is the best time to see them?
The Northern Lights halo occurs primarily at 60 degree latitude
Auroral activity is cyclic – known as the Sunspot Cycle, peaking roughly every 11 years. Winter in the north is generally a good season to view lights – although this can also be the coldest time. The long periods of darkness and the frequency of clear nights provide many good opportunities to watch the auroral displays but to . Usually the best time of night (on clear nights) to watch for auroral displays is local midnight. Located around both magnetic poles of the earth is a halo like ring called an aurora oval – generally found at the 60 degree latitude in the northern hemisphere. The area directly beneath each aurora oval is the best place to see the aurora most often. North American locations under the northern oval include Yellowknife, Churchill, Iqaluit, Canada, Fairbanks, Alaska. Other parts of the world including Lapland, Norway, southern Greenland and Iceland will also see the northern lights.
3) What Is So Special About 2014?
The Sunspot Cycle and how it is linked to sightings of the northern lights. The cycle is generally around 11 years and the 2014 season it reaches its peak, the Solar Max. Sunspots are temporary dark patches which are cooler than the rest of the surface of the Sun and when these increase in number, so too does the amount of solar flare activity and the subsequent possibility of auroral displays. This doesn’t mean you won’t see displays during other periods of the cycle, as activity is constant, just that displays at the peak may be more intense or more frequent.
4) Why Are Displays Different Colours?
Colors and patterns are from the types of ions or atoms being energized as they collide with the atmosphere and are affected by lines of magnetic force. Displays may take many forms, including rippling curtains, pulsating globs, traveling pulses, or steady glows. Altitude affects the colors. Blue violet/reds occur below 60 miles (100 km), with bright green strongest between 60-150 miles (100-240 km). Above 150 miles (240 km) ruby reds appear.
5) Will I Definitely See Them?
Viewing Northern Lights over Iqaluit
We suggest locations that have the highest likelihood and where weather conditions are generally better than anywhere else but cannot guarantee sightings. And what’s more, Arctic Kingdom suggests locations where during the day whilst you are not star gazing, there are many activities to keep you occupied while we wait for night to fall. Activities, to name a few, can include dogsledding, igloo building or photographing wildlife. Patience and time is the key as well as a clear, cloudless winter’s night. Displays can occur any time from around 5pm but most activity tends to be a little later.
6) Bonus! How Do I Photograph Them?
Tripods with long exposures are needed to capture the northern lights
We said ‘Top 5’ – but we are going to add one more as we are asked this question very often. Generally you need to keep the camera steady using a tripod as exposures from several seconds to almost 20 give the best results. SLR camera users should try a wide angle lens with a wide aperture as well as setting their ISO levels to high. For further tips, you can ask your Arctic Kingdom trip leader when on your northern lights trip. It takes practice to get the settings right as the northern lights photographs you see in books and postcards showing spectacular night skies have been put together by people with years of experience. This is not to say that complete novices don’t succeed - we’ve had some amazing shots sent in to us.
More often than not, people tend to simply stand beneath a display and marvel at its magnificence – also beats having to take your gloves off to try and work your camera!
Photo Gallery: Click here to visit the Arctic Kingdom Northern Lights Gallery
Want to see the Northern Lights with Arctic Kingdom?
Check out these 4 trips we have designed to see northern lights:
Taste of the Arctic Spring
Autumn Caribou and Northern Lights Photo Safari
Polar Bear Migration Fly-In Safari
Northern Lights Fly-In Lodge