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Catching the Northern Lights in Vancouver

The Northern Lights can be quite unpredictable at our latitude, and be hard to spot due to the light pollution and weather conditions in the city. We would recommend using forecasting applications like My Aurora Forecast to stay updated on any opportunities to catch the Northern Lights at your location.

You can also check NOAA's forecast for the Northern Lights that updates regularly.


How to view the Northern Lights?


  1. Find clear, dark skies Wait for the sky to get dark and then head away from city lights to areas with less light pollution, like beaches, parks or rural areas. Make sure the view to the North specifically does not have any light pollution from your spot Make sure to have company and stay safe. Here is a light pollution map. Check the weather forecast here.

  2. Keep an eye on aurora forecasts

  3. Look North The Northern Lights typically appear around the northern horizon.

  4. Be patient Sometimes, the auroras might not appear right away. Stay patient and give your eyes time to adjust to the dark. You can also try taking long exposure images of the sky to see if there is any activity at all.

  5. Dress in layers to stay comfortable in case it gets chilly

  6. Have realistic expectations Remember that photos of the Northern Lights can look more vibrant and detailed than what you see in person. Our eyes are not as sensitive to light as camera sensors, so even though the auroras may be present, they might appear fainter or less vibrant to us in real-time. Moreover, longer exposure times on cameras allow for more light to be captured, and smartphones can also enhance images.





What are some spots for viewing the Northern Lights?


Spots close to campus include Tower Beach, Locarno Beach.

We don't recommend Wreck Beach since the view to the North is obstructed.

If you can drive we would recommend heading to any of these locations:

Location

Distance from UBC

Travel Time

Notes

Porteau Cove

54 km

48 minutes


Cypress Mountain

38 km

45 minutes

You might have to look for spots that have unobstructed views of the north horizon.

Mount Seymour

37 km

50 minutes

Check to make sure what the hours are.

Whytecliff Park

32 km

30 minutes



Stay safe and good luck!

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