Northern Lights

The northern lights shimmer in the night skies year-round, creating green and red-tinged swirls that stretch to the heavens — and perhaps beyond. In Aboriginal lore, the lights are dancing spirits of ancestors, creating a spectral path for souls to follow to another realm.

The explanation provided by Churchill Northern Studies Centre is a bit less romantic: When gases and solar wind particles collide in the atmosphere, their energy produces light.

While the aurora borealis is visible on clear nights throughout northern Manitoba, Churchill is a prime viewing spot, sitting directly beneath the Auroral Oval in the Northern Hemisphere. Magnetic fields near the North Pole create conditions that pull solar wind into Earth’s atmosphere more than 300 nights each year.

But summer nights are so short, lingering daylight obscures the view. The best times to see the northern lights are from late January through April, and in late Augustand September.

Some people say the lights create a swishing sound, and the centre has an explanation for that too.

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