Northern Lights Viewing

Anchorage's bright starry nights are nature’s perfect backdrop for dancing northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis. 

Vibrant blues, pinks, greens and yellows sway in the sky, marking the path of the dancing aurora. The shimmering opus can be seen swirling in Anchorage’s starlit skies as early as 8 p.m. during winter months. They can be incredibly bright, multihued and fast moving.

Ionized gas particles hit the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting is an amazing phenomenon of undulating curtains of light that glow, ripple and sway, fold and unfold then suddenly disappear. The most common color is a brilliant yellow-green, and auroras can also produce red, blue and purples.

Fall, winter and spring are the prime seasons for viewing the northern lights, and the best displays tend to be accompanied by cloudless and moonless skies. The best hours are often near midnight. Of course, no one can guarantee when the aurora will be out. Visitors who wish to spot the northern lights should plan to spend a few days because the aurora is, like the weather, variable.

See more aurora photos from Anchorage.

Best Aurora Views Near Anchorage

Weather conditions and man-made light greatly influence the ability to see auroras, so it’s best to be in a location known for clear, dark skies. Fortunately, one doesn’t have to travel far from downtown Anchorage to find prime aurora viewing locales. Going with an expert can help increase your odds as well. Below are just a few prime aurora viewing spots and guides focused on northern lights in the winter:

Alaska aurora forecasts are available from the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute.

Summer Aurora Views

Even though the summer evening skies are too bright, visitors still find a way to enjoy the full splendor of Alaska’s northern lights. Projected in high definition, “AurorA, Alaska's Great Northern Lights” is a stunning digital presentation by Aurora photographer Dave Parkhurst, set to original music and shown daily in summer at the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts.