How to buy or rent a home with a view of the aurora

cabin under the aurora no light pollution North Pole Alaska

How to buy or rent a home with a view of the aurora and without light pollution

  • You need a view to the north. Which direction is north? Is it in your backyard or front yard? Is north out of your bedroom window or your kitchen? Which view is important to you?
  • The view needs to be free of direct and indirect light pollution. For example, the view to the north should not have a streetlight or a neighbor’s light that may hinder your view. If you have trees or something blocking your view to the north you may not be able to see the aurora.
  • Look at a satellite map of the home and zoom out to view the entire area. If you are south of a city, light pollution to the north may be a problem. You may also see that your neighbor has a home based business, and in turn leave lights on all night for whatever reason.
hotel and lights
A hotel in Fairbanks and it’s light pollution.
big aurora with Fairbanks light pollution
Fairbanks light pollution blocks a massive aurora. Photo taken from Salcha, AK, 36 miles away.

Eielson Air Force Base pink light pollution with green aurora
Eielson Air Force Base light pollution as seen from Chena Lakes, 13 miles away.
  • Look at a light pollution map to gauge how much indirect light pollution may hinder your view.
  • Visit the property at night to see how it looks. You might be surprised at a streetlight you did not know was there, or a neighbor’s light they leave on 24/7. Get permission from your realtor if you have too. Seeing the place at night is important!
  • Terrain may block a low aurora. If your home is on the side of a mountain that faces south, you may not be able to see aurora to the north, but seeing aurora overhead when it is strong may still be possible. If your home is between hills or mountains, you may not be able to see aurora unless it is higher up or overhead.
  • If your home is surrounded by trees, they may block your view of the aurora when it is low.

  • If able, have a drone photograph the home from above to check for possible hindrances to viewing.
  • Just because there is a photo of the home with the aurora does not mean you can see aurora from that location often
  • A good realtor may know, the previous owner may know, but still check the list above.
Fairbanks light pollution
Fairbanks light pollution as seen from North Pole.
orange light pollution bounces off clouds
Reflective light pollution from North Pole, AK, with the aurora behind the clouds.
North Pole light pollution with aurora
North Pole, AK light pollution bounces off ice fog in sub-zero temperatures.

Are you moving? Military, are you moving on base? If you have a choice, select a house that is on the north side of any housing area and away from streetlights, neighbors who leave their lights on, and nearby outbuildings with exterior lights.

Here is a road map of a random housing scenario. The houses are situated on both sides of the road. Which houses will be able to see the aurora the best?

House #1 is in a good position. The backyard faces the aurora, and there are only a few houses to the right that may hinder the view.

House #2 is in a perfect spot. There are only the 2 neighbors that may hinder the view.

House #3 and 4 are in a good spot, but may have neighbors to the left that leave their exterior lights on.

House #5 is ok for a view to the northeast, but streetlights might spread light pollution.

House #6, 7, and 8 have to rely on their neighbors to turn off exterior lights, plus buildings and streetlights may block the aurora.

House #9 is far enough away from the top houses, so there is a gap from exterior light pollution, but their aurora view won’t be perfect.

House #10 is in a poor position for aurora viewing. Corner streetlights, traffic, and neighbors will hinder the view.

House #11 is ok for aurora viewing, due to the space between 11 and 12, but will have to hope the top houses keep exterior lights off and streetlights aren’t in the direct path.

House #12 is in a poor spot, because it is likely that there is a streetlight positioned on the corner, plus the houses to the north may block the view.

If you are moving to the barracks or dorms, or single person housing, select a room with windows on the north side. If there are no windows on the north side, select northeast.

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