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Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)

Fort Smith is located in an area of 80-95 percent aurora activity. this means that on any clear night, you are almost guaranteed to see some level of aurora activity!

It's a short walk or drive away from the lights of town for a clear dark sky from which to enjoy our spectacular aurora displays.

Here are some of our favourite spots:

1. Dr. Roberta Bondar Northern Observatory - located near the airport. Contact the Thebacha & Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society for more information and when to visit.

2. Salt River Day Use Area in Wood Buffalo National Park

3. Fort Smith Ski Club

4. Pine Lake Dark Sky Observation Site - Sky Circle

5. Mountain Portage along the Slave River

The aurora borealis streak the sky all year, but they can be difficult to see during the late spring and early summer because of our long daylight hours. August through the end of March is the best time for aurora viewing in Fort Smith.

The northern lights are the focus of hundreds of stories and legends in many cultures. The Dene people of the North say that if you whistle, you can bring the lights down and make them dance. For many people, seeing them is a spiritual experience.

Scientifically, the aurora phenomenon is the result of charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s atmosphere. When the particles hit the earth’s atmosphere their energy turns into light and the northern lights are created.

The aurora borealis are so visible in Fort Smith that an international scientific project set up a cosmic activity monitoring station in town. But you don’t need any special equipment to see the northern lights. Just look up at the sky on a clear night after the sun sets: the northern lights fill the Fort Smith sky.

To learn more about the night sky in and around Fort Smith contact:

Thebacha and Wood Buffalo Astronomical Society: