Typically, when we think of places where the aurora borealis lights up the night sky, we imagine Alaska or Canada.  Basically, places near the arctic circle.

However, we do occasionally get a glimpse of the northern lights here in New England.  Normally, when we do see the northern lights, they are recognizable, but dim.  They look nothing like they do in pictures or in movies.

Thanks to the peaking of the solar cycle, it looks like we are going to see some spectacular Aurora Borealis this spring.

According to National Geographic, the area where the northern lights can be seen is called the “auroral zone.”  It is centered near the arctic circle, but it fluctuates in shape and size.  The zone is affected by the speed of the solar wind, the amount of charged particles coming from the sun, and solar storms.

The article explains that the Northern Lights are more intense and more frequent around the equinoxes in March and October.

Why will the Northern Lights be more intense in 2024?

According to NASA, the sun is constantly going through an 11-year activity cycle.  The current cycle, which started in December 2019, will reach its peak in the spring of 2024.  As a result, we can expect more intense and spectacular northern lights this spring.

Some scientists are saying that the peak could come the last week of March.  They are also predicting that they could be visible as far south as the 40th parallel.

That means that they would be visible to people in all of New England.  It would also be visible to people in Texas, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Utah.

Beautiful green northern lights and snowmobile on foreground, Norway

Where is the best viewing of the aurora borealis?

It should go without saying that for the best viewing of the aurora borealis, you want to be someplace dark.  You cannot expect to have a good viewing experience in the middle of town.

For the best viewing, check out the Dark Skies website for a list of great viewing spots in your area.

The site’s list of great viewing spots in North America include two spots in Maine: the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Maine Woods Initiative and the Katahdin Woods & Waters National Monument.

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