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Old 12-31-2007, 03:49 PM
 
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Is it possible to see the aurora borealis (northern lights) from Washington state? Has anyone seen them? Where is a good spot to view them?

I have heard that spring and fall are the best times to catch them, but that they can occur at anytime throught the year. I have also read that when the sun is very active, the lights are more dormant, and vice versa. They follow an 8-year cycle, I think, according to the sun's activity cycle. Anyway - I have heard that 2008 is supposed to be a good year to catch the northern lights.

I am interested in what others more familiar with this state (I'm a native Texan...) have experienced. I would love to see them!!

Thanks!
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:03 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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Anything you Google about the Northern Lights in Fairbanks applies to B.C. and WA, except less so. I even saw the lights in western Montana, and I've seen the lights many times here in western WA. The reason the Lights are "less so" in WA is twofold: here the air is not as clear of pollution, fog, mist, dust, clouds, rain, etc. as it is in northern Alaska; and here there are infinitely more lights to interrupt the rays.

To see them anywhere -- they're even occasionally visible in northern Mexico in midwinter:
- you have to have a clear, cloudless night so that you can see as far as the ~60 miles up where the dance occurs;
- the night has to be very dark (meaning not 8:00 in the evening but midnight to two in the morning);
- here in WA or B.C. you have to drive into the country and up to the top of a clear hill or small mountain, to get away from the electric lights and to get higher into thinner air. Look north. Then you'll see them, if the Sun chose to run them that night.

Actually, the Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which is the world's leading scientific authority on the Northern Lights, issues predictions daily throughout the year, every year, and you can study their charts and find which night is expected to produce the most energy around Fairbanks, go drive into the country and up on top of a hill in WA, and if the air is clear and crisp you'll see fainter Lights than are visible around Fairbanks. Here's their link: http://www.gedds.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:14 PM
 
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Good comments, allforcats.

I've seen them several times from the Seattle area (and a few times in central Washington) but it's rare. And, as allforcats has explained, they're not that distinct when you can see them.

I've always seen pictures of the aurora borealis in the northern latitudes such as northern Canada and Alaska but have always been disappointed when viewing them in Washington. The times I've seen them, they always appeared as just a faint shimmer in the sky with not much color at all.
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:41 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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Here's another resource, which I check almost every night, very late. It's a webcam, placed about 30 miles north of Fairbanks, facing north, looking at the sky. It's authorized by the UAF Geophysical Inst. The link is
http://salmon.nict.go.jp/live/aurora...ora_cam_e.html
If the Lights are visible there, you'll see them. The cam reloads every 4 minutes, so you won't see the moving dance, but you will see a static picture. It's fun! Sometimes it dies, so please be patient with the camera; someone will fix it in a day or two :-)
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Old 12-31-2007, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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The sky is a huge dome of hard material arched over the flat earth. On the outside there is light. In the dome there are a large number of small holes, and, when it's dark, through these holes you can see the light from the outside. And through these holes the spirits of the dead can pass into the heavenly regions. The way to heaven leads over a narrow bridge which spans an enormous abyss. The spirits that were already in heaven light torches to guide the feet of the new arrivals. These torches are called the northern lights. - Inuit legend
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Old 12-31-2007, 05:39 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Texas, Finally!
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I saw them in Canada....brilliant blues, greens....it was beautiful.
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Old 12-31-2007, 05:43 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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Wow, Cobolt, where in Canada? Greens are visible every day but blues are unusual.
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:00 PM
 
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allforcats!! Thank you so much - I am checking out that link right now. Thank you for all your information. I'm so happy that you are posting on this forum!
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Old 01-02-2008, 09:27 PM
 
Location: Cosmic Consciousness
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Haggard, hugs to you too ! :-)
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