Northern Lights were spotted in Alaska today KossyDerrickBlog KossyDerrickEnt


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Friday, February 17, 2023

Northern Lights were spotted in Alaska today

Information reaching Kossyderrickent has it that Northern Lights were spotted in Alaska today.

Vincent Ledvina is no stranger to the sight of glimmering polar lights. The space physics PhD student took his first aurora picture at the age of 16. Since then, he says on his website(opens in new tab), he's been hooked on the thrill of aurora chasing. This passion eventually led to him relocating from Minnesota to Fairbanks, Alaska, to study aurora physics. Alaska, the northernmost U.S. state, straddles the polar circle, offering the nation's best conditions for aurora viewing. And Ledvina has been making the most of it.

His Twitter account and his website's photo gallery are overflowing with stunning aurora pictures. Yet, in a series of tweets as excited as the particles in the atmosphere over Ledvina's head, the photographer admitted that the auroras he saw on Valentine's Day this year were out of the ordinary.

In an email interview, Ledvina later explained to that red colors only appear in auroras when the density of solar wind particles in Earth's atmosphere reaches exceptionally high levels.

"Because the solar wind density was very high, the reds were spectacular," Ledvina wrote. "I have noticed the red colors are correlated with high density values. Also, usually, the aurora will "pop" (explode, dance, substorm are all similar terms) only once a night and then subside and evolve into a pulsating aurora, which is a sort of recovery mode. Last night, the auroras popped over and over, which was awesome since just when I thought the show was over, I'd see more aurora coming in from the eastern and western horizons."

We do know, however, that the northern lights are best seen in Alaska between 65° N and 70° N latitude. Fairbanks is about 198 miles south of the Arctic Circle and enjoys sporadic northern lights, though it's best to forget the more southernly destinations of Anchorage and Juneau, which see dramatically fewer displays.

Those wanting to maximize their chances should head for the more remote northern villages of Coldfoot in the Yukon Territory, or to Prudhoe Bay and Utqiaġvik in the extreme north. The further north you travel in Alaska, the more likely you are to see the northern lights.

Its popularity among northern lights seekers has a lot to do with its accessibility. There are frequent flights and plenty of options for accommodations. Good places to head to in the vicinity include Cleary Summit, about 20 miles from Fairbanks, which is easy to get to, has good parking, and has a solid view of the horizon.

Other good observation places nearby, according to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, include Haystack Mountain, Ester, Wickersham, and Murphy Domes. Chena Lake Recreation Area is a popular place to go to look for reflections in the water (you can park your car near the jetty). Nearby is Chena Hot Springs Resort, where you can watch the show from an outdoor hot tub. By day, try your hand at either cross-country skiing or ice fishing through pre-drilled ice holes.

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