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Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Toronto, Canada
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Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

I'm trying to gauge the weather in Iqaluit throughout the year to figure out when is the best time to visit and for how long. The most remote part of Canada I have visited so far was Newfoundland, but this would probably beat it by a huge margin. Aside from unusual for me landscapes, what would be really awesome is if I could see aurora borealis. But with that come a few logistical problems.

It's only moderately cold in the summer, and with long days - so great for exploring the area, but I guess the chances of seeing northern lights would be rather slim, no? Does it tend to be cloudy/overcast in the warmer months?

In the winter, the temperature is of the kind I've never even experienced, though I suppose with the right clothing it should be workable. Long nights would mean a great opportunity for sky gazing, as long as the cloud cover is not thick.

When is the best chance to see aurora, in terms of clear skies? Would 3-4 days be enough to make sure at least 1-2 days have good clear skies, or should I go for a week?

Thanks!

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Toronto, Canada
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1. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Most places I have read up on about the Northern Lights recommend a week....between weather and the Lights co-operating, a week would give you the best chance to experience a "show"...

Toronto, Canada
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2. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

I see the visitors' guide ( …iqaluit.nu.ca/i18n/…iqaluitvg10.pdf ) suggests spring and early fall, I guess that's a healthy compromise between winter and summer ;)

Toronto, Canada
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3. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Makes sense, that's what I read on Iceland as well...

Kamloops, Canada
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4. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

You need night skies, with winter in the far north you get lots of dark, summer not so much. Aim for nights with the least amount of moonlight as well.

This website can help...

http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast

Happy viewing

Victoria, Canada
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5. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Disregarding the weather, Iqaluit may not be the best place to see the aurora from. It may be too far north! Take a look at this map which shows the current auroral intensity at 'moderate'. Note that it is not showing the aurora visible from Iqaluit. Over to the left of the map is a tab to the maps at different intensities, marked 'Interpreting the Forecast' …alaska.edu/AuroraForecast/…26

Toronto, Canada
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6. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Regarding "too far north", I've been reading this: aurora-service.eu/aurora-school/… and it basically says that places that are too far north tend to have great displays when the activity is nominally low to moderate, but not much when the activity increases and northern lights become visible further south. Anyone with first hand experience in Iqaluit?

Victoria, Canada
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7. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

I'm sorry, but I have no knowledge of places being too far north for aurora other than that and other sites I have been on. According to the site, Iqaluit appears to be too north for any level of intensity!

Maybe I should go ask about this on the Astronomy Forum I belong to and let you know if I get a meaningful answer.

Victoria, Canada
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8. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

I did talk to someone that had worked all over the Arctic, but never to Iqaluit, He had been to places on the map that show frequent displays and he did see them there. He also went to a place way further north of where they are visible (Eureka, northern Greenland) and he never saw them. The map shows where the aurora is visible overheard, it also has a red line to the south that indicates where the lights are visible, not overhead but above the horizon. There is no line to the north however, but I believe that they are visible from a place like Iqaluit but lower down in the sky, and to the SOUTH!

Toronto, Canada
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9. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

It's settled then, I'm coming over some time within a year!

Victoria, Canada
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10. Re: Best time to visit: sunlight vs aurora borealis

Well, as long as you are not going there JUST for the lights. Your chances of seeing them, again disregarding the weather, would be far greater on somewhere on the green arc.

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