Cook County is the Best Place to View the Northern Lights in Minnesota (and the lower 48 states)

You don’t have to travel to the Arctic Circle to see the Northern Lights, also known as the aurora borealis. Thanks to our northern location and vast, dark skies, we in Cook County, Minnesota are lucky enough to see them often.

The Top 8 Tips on How to See the Northern Lights in Minnesota

For many, catching a glimpse of this stunning natural phenomenon is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It’s a chance to experience the mystical, feel connected with something almost otherworldly and experience natural beauty at its utmost perfection. There is simply no comparison to seeing the northern lights with your own eyes.

To help you create the best northern lights experience, we put together our top 8 tips on how to see the northern lights.

Discover the Tips

Download The Northern Lights Photography Guide

Northern Lights Map

Click here to view the full resolution version (46mb)

 

What is the Best Time of Year to View the Aurora Borealis?

They can appear year-round. For reasons not yet fully understood, the Northern Lights appear most frequently in the late fall and winter.

Hoping to Catch the Northern Lights Tonight? We recommend checking these forecasting websites:

While difficult to predict, there are a few websites that offer decent Northern Lights forecasting capabilities.

Soft Serve News aurora borealis forecast
Visit Soft Serve News aurora borealis forecast
NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Visit NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center
Aurora Service
Visit Aurora Service
View map for a visual on where you might see lights
Visit View map for a visual on where you might see lights

Suggested Northern Lights Forecasting Mobile Apps:

My Aurora Forecast Mobile App (iOS)
Visit My Aurora Forecast Mobile App (iOS)
 
My Aurora Forecast Mobile App (Android)
Visit My Aurora Forecast Mobile App (Android)
Aurora Alerts Mobile App (iOS + Google Play)
Visit Aurora Alerts Mobile App (iOS + Google Play)

 

What is Cook County’s KP Level (and what is a KP Level)?

You’ll notice on all Northern Lights prediction sites reference KP levels. KP levels is a scale of numbers 0 -9 that will give you an approximation of where you’ll need to go for a chance to see the auroras. To see them in our area, you’ll be looking for a KP of 4 or higher.

What Causes the Aurora Borealis?

The Northern Lights are caused by the interaction of the solar wind – a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun – and our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere. Read more about what causes the aurora borealis here.

Other Dark Sky Phenomenas

In addition to the Northern Lights, other celestial events happen throughout the year. Annually occurring sometime between mid-July and mid-August is the Perseid meteor shower. November offers another chance when the Leonid show occurs. Fortunately, just by being in the great Northwoods your chances of catching a shooting star are infinitely increased.

 

Night Sky Events

Events Calendar

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