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.
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.
Suggested Northern Lights Forecasting Mobile Apps:
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 Phenomenons
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.
With the help of local photographer, Bryan Hansel, we have created a comprehensive list of some of the best places to view the northern lights in Cook County, MN. Find more information on these northern lights viewing routes with google maps links on our blog.