Northern Lights Over Vancouver

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If you were in the Lower Mainland tonight, chances are you caught the amazing fiery sunset that streaked through the clouds above. However according to my friend Duane Storey, we could be in for a lot more in the skies tonight and early tomorrow morning. He has contributed the following post:

It’s pretty rare for the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) to be seen as far south as Vancouver, but it has happened occasionally in the past. Usually it is the result of unusual solar activity such as a massive solar flare. One such solar flare occurred in November of 2003, and registered as an X28 — amazingly powerful.

The magnetic field of the resultant solar explosion ended up enhancing the magnetic activity of the earth, and caused the aurora to go as far south as Mexico.

Northern Lights
2003 – Northern Lights in Vancouver. Photo credit: Duane Storey on Flickr.

A geomagnetic storm is currently underway that is predicted to cause the aurora to be visible as far south as Seattle. To keep track of the status of the aurora, visit and view the current pictorial representation in the sidebar to check on the status.

It’s pretty rare for the aurora to be visible this far south, so try and get out to see it if you can. It should make an appearance a few hours after midnight tonight. If you spot the Northern Lights be sure to take a photo if you can and consider sharing it with the Miss604 Flickr Pool.

Where to View the Northern Lights

The Province reports that one of the best viewing areas will be in the Fraser Valley as hundreds of people gather each year at Aldergrove Lake Park. An H.R. MacMillan Space Centre representative also told The Province that Dark Sky Park in Abbotsford would be a great place to catch a meteor shower as well.

I looked up “Dark Sky Park” to discover that it’s a nickname given to McDonald Park as it has officially been declared free of light pollution.

I’d have to agreed that out in the valley you will have a darker sky that will make the meteors easier to spot. However I would also recommend heading to the Sunshine Coast (although the last ferry back is at 9:40pm) or even heading up the Sea to Sky a bit to perhaps Porteau Cove (about 45 minutes from downtown). A friend of mine will be heading out to Cultus Lake where she says the stars are the brightest around.

A little closer to home you can try Cypress Mountain to get you above the city lights or Iona Beach although lights from air traffic at YVR might be distracting. You may also be able to spot some stars from Barnet Marine Park or Belcarra as they are tucked beside the Burrard Inlet, facing a “quieter” side of the North Shore.

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