The 6 Best Places to See the Northern and Southern Lights in Person
Viewing the Northern and Southern Lights is usually reserved for those living in the extremes of planet Earth.
You either have to live, or visit, places very far north or very far south to experience the stunning light show put on by Mother Nature. However, there is one select group of people who get to see the breathtaking sight each and every day with a totally unobstructed view: the astronauts living aboard the International Space Station.
On June 25, a member of the Expedition 52 crew recorded a gorgeous new video of the lights in action.
“The International Space Station was flying from south of Australia to the southern Pacific Ocean,” when it captured the footage, NASA explained.
And while you can watch the video above, you could also plan a trip to see the lights in person. Check out a few of the top destinations to view both the Northern and Southern Lights below.
There’s more than one spectacular place in Sweden to watch the magnificent lights, but staying at the Icehotel tops our list.
Each and every winter the ice structure is built anew. Guests choose between booking a snow or ice room for their stay before setting out to see the lights in person. The hotel even offers a horseback tour for a truly nature filled experience.
Thanks to Greenland’s supremely dark night sky, the Northern Lights are highly visible for visitors to take in. The aurora season is best between September to the beginning of April, at which time you’re nearly guaranteed a prime light show.
Book at stay at the Hotel Arctic’s igloos on the Ilulissat Icefjord. Each room comes equipped with skylights and expansive front windows so that you can potentially view the lights and the bright night stars right from your own bed.
Just because the Northern Lights sound exotic doesn’t mean you need to travel to some far-off destination to see them. In fact, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania offers up stunning views of the lights several times a year thanks to its distinction as a Gold Level International Dark Sky Park by the International Dark-Sky Association.
There were four Northern Light occurrences over the summer of 2014, meaning you too have a great chance to view them close to home.
The Southern Lights, like their northern counterpart, take a bit of Mother Nature magic mixed with science to occur. The Southern Lights are more formally known as the Aurora Australis, and happen when solar winds introduce electrically charged particles from the sun into the atmosphere and interact with natural gases and the Earth's magnetic fields. Like the Northern Lights, you still need an extremely clear sky and low light pollution to see them, which is exactly what New Zealand offers.
To see the lights, or simply have an isolated vacation of a lifetime, book a stay at Azur, a hotel that consists of nine 800- square-foot freestanding villas on a steep cliff facing the alpine, Tolkienesque landscape surrounding Lake Wakatipu. It will feel worlds away but is actually located just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Queensland.
In March, people in New Zealand, Tasmania, and parts of southern Australia were treated to a rare display of the Southern Lights. The lights, which differ slightly from those in the northern sky, glistened with a rainbow of colors over the isolated island of Tasmania.
If you’re hoping to experience the same sight then try checking in to Voyages Cradle Mountain Lodge, a hotel made up of 86 timber cabins located at the edge of one of the few remaining rainforests in the world.
If you’re really looking for the travel experience of a lifetime then it’s time to bundle up and head south — really south — to Antarctica. The best way to get to the icy continent is by cruise.
While there are plenty of cruises to choose from we suggest trying the Orion Expedition Cruise, which brings just 106 passengers onboard for an intimate polar cruise. Not only will you see plenty of Arctic wildlife, but you just may get lucky and see a stunning show put on by the colorful Southern Lights