North Dakota: Northern Lights are Stargazer's Heaven

Northern Lights, galaxies, stars ... and UFOs?

North Dakota's climate, location and geography are perfectly suited for viewing the aurora borealis (northern lights). The amazing lights dance across the night sky in vivid green, purple and blue. Sometimes they compete for attention with a full moon that is bright enough to read by. OK, that's an exaggeration, but you get the idea. You literally would be able to see a bison approaching your campsite at midnight in the backcountry of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Stargazers don't have to drive far out of our larger cities and towns to be alone with the rest of the universe. Staring up, we wonder what's there. Does anybody see us? Do we see anybody else on that tiny light so far away? We contemplate things we can’t understand like how far is a thousand light years. Sometimes we're treated to meteor showers or the twinkling lights of jets flying over or satellites and even the International Space Station cruising way overhead.

Here are some tips to viewing the northern lights in North Dakota.

  • Northern lights watchers don’t have to wait until fall or try to catch the show by chance. Some websites track the appearance of the aurora borealis and other sites go into more detail.
  • What sets North Dakota apart from other areas of the world where you can also see the northern lights is its location. Here you can see them year-round thanks in part to our dark night skies. And during strong displays, you can see them in every direction, not just to the north.
  • Do a little homework and then head into the countryside for one of nature's rarest light shows.

North Dakota is one of the best places to scan the dark skies for the northern lights or uncounted stars, planets and galaxies. Take a look outside on a crisp, clear night and try counting the stars. No, wait, don't. You’ll run out of numbers and the night before you run out of celestial bodies.