Auroras are forecast Kp 3 tonight and Kp 4 tomorrow night.
As it is now at 825 pm Alaska time, data is slowly picking up. Data is expected to improve as we head toward morning, overnight.
The weather in Fairbanks, Anchorage, and the MatSu Valley is cloudy, making for poor viewing. Any areas in the north latitudes where the weather is clear, heads up for auroras the next few nights. If the data greatly improves and we see Kp 5, then lower latitudes such as southern Canada and the northern states may see lights.
For more aurora goodness and tips see Aurora Notify, the website for Aurora Borealis Notifications
Are you coming to the Fairbanks area soon? Rooms and tour outings book up FAST for the month of March. DO NOT “wing it” when you get here. Choose your place to stay and your things to do now. Every year, someone will email me begging for last minute information. Please plan ahead for your dream vacation!
Auroras are high up in the sky. If it is cloudy, you cannot see the northern lights. If there are openings in the clouds, you can see the aurora in between. If the clouds are thin, your camera will pick up “green clouds” and sometimes you can even see the “green clouds” with your eyes. Auroras are much higher than rainbows….you cannot see auroras under the clouds. They are not going to reach down and touch the ground….although it sure does feel like it sometimes!
There are the typical suggestions on what to do in Fairbanks…..and then there are the local things to do…there are more things to do that just what you can read on a typical tourist website…. What kind of experience are you after? Are you coming to see the lights? If that is your first priority, then here are a few tips to follow:
- Get a place to stay outside Fairbanks city limits. Bnbs, Air Bnbs, VRBO, camps, tour guide rentals, etc, are great choices. Hotels in the city have a lot of light pollution (if you chose a place in the city, be prepared to drive a little ways to see the aurora). Anywhere on the outskirts of town where there is no light pollution is great. Choose a room that faces north if possible if you want to view from bed. Not everyone who has northern lights photos on their webpage can actually see faint or low auroras from their place…big displays yes. Look at the map of where you want to stay, and see if it is far enough away from light pollution. If you are lucky to experience a big display, you can see the aurora from everywhere in Fairbanks city limits, including the Walmart parking lot, where there are a lot of streetlights!
- DO NOT LET anyone tell you that they will wake you up when the lights come out. Rely on YOURSELF FIRST and use your friend, security guard, hotel clerk SECOND as a BACK UP because lights come and go fast. By the time you are out the door, the lights could be gone! Better yet, use Aurora Borealis Notifications page and group on Facebook, or @Twitter for fast messaging about the lights. Many hotels use ABN on Twitter to get the fast texting, but they also look at the webcams! Bookmark the webcam of your choice and watch it while you await the lights.
- Rental car questions. Do I need a 4×4? No you don’t. Unless you are doing other activities that need a 4×4. Get a car with winter tires if possible. Get the car upgrade only if you are truly not experienced driving on the ice. There is a list of places where you can drive to here (Fairbanks) and here (Anchorage and MatSu Valley). Everywhere else in Alaska is pretty much LOOK TO THE NORTH away from light pollution. If you ask where you should go from, Denali, for example,…..you will see when you get there. It is very dark away from the cities. No need to ask where to go. Just go! The dark starry sky is amazing.
- Use a tour guide if you are not wanting to worry about driving at all! They will drive you to the lights. Many tour guides, such as The Aurora Chasers and SkyFire in Focus drive to different locations depending on the weather, road conditions, and aurora forecast. It is not just the same place everytime. It is worth the experience and fun with like minded people.
- Do not book a (non aurora) tour at 6am then expect to be awake and happy come midnight wanting to see the lights. Be conscious of the times you are planning things, and be sure to get in a nap. Here is something else to consider, go to bed early and get up at 3am. If you are on east coast time, this might be easy!
- Want to see auroras in the daytime? The Museum of the North has an educational display. In North Pole, see aurora prints and art, and chat with Sean or Amanda about aurora hunting in the area at Sean Kurdziolek Portraits and Gallery, and Gary has a store in Fox, just north of Fairbanks, and he will tell you about the lights and photography, just to name a few suggestions.
- Aurora forecasting is hard to learn if you have never seen it before or are new to it. It is not as simple as someone telling you that the forecast is “quiet” or “active”. Quiet doesn’t mean that there won’t be lights. It means the Kp level is 3 or lower. And active doesn’t mean they will be dancing in the sky, it means the aurora forecast is Kp 4 or higher.
I accept texts at night if you are in need of aurora assistance. I do not like calls because I have a family to consider. Thank you. I also accept donations if you choose to donate a couple $ (paypal firstname.lastname@example.org), but otherwise this website and services are free thanks to the sponsors to keep it online. My number is
Join us in the group, Aurora Borealis Notifications Group on Facebook, and learn just how easy it is to catch the lights on your trip! Here is a secret: BE AWAKE AT NIGHT!!!
Wordy wordy blog post here, but I am excited for your trip and I know you will have fun!