Let’s set the mood:
You’re on vacation at Rainy Lake with your family or loved ones, and the dinner table has just been cleared. The sun set an hour ago and the fire has kept everyone warm since the night chill set in. The stars twinkle and the moon seems to be hiding just on the edge of the horizon. Everyone sits back in their seats, drifting in and out of the inevitable sleep that is around the corner.
The story teller in the family continues to brag about the fish she caught in the lake earlier that afternoon and how just when she had it within reach and lifted her rod, the line snapped and the record-breaking fish sank back down into the green-blue water and twisted away, never to be seen again. She continues to talk about the murky water and points to the window before gasping and exclaiming, “It was just like that – green and blue water that swallowed up my fish!” Everyone races to the window and looks up to the skies, ablaze with colors and light. It’s the aurora borealis like you’ve never seen it before.
What Causes the Aurora Borealis?
Aurora borealis, or more commonly known as the Northern Lights, look like bright flowing ribbons in the sky. When electrically charged particles from the sun collide in the earth’s atmosphere, they create photons which display as ribbons of light across the night sky. While they can be seen year-round, the winter months bring prolonged darkness (especially farther north) and give everyone more time to catch a glimpse of their beauty at night.
What You Seek, You Might Find
Cooler winter months often bring silver-grey clouds, allowing for fewer chances to see the clear night sky. But with less light pollution from surrounding cities, your chances of spotting the Northern Lights on a clear night are increased. It’s all about timing.
How to Plan for the Northern Lights
Step 1: If the forecast calls for a clear night with little to no cloud coverage, you’re halfway there. September through March is prime time for Northern Lights viewing but weather doesn’t always allow it. So check the local weather app and proceed to step 2, if the sky is in the clear.
Step 2: Check any of the following apps for viewing predictions. Many factors beyond weather influence your chance at seeing the Northern Lights, including geomagnetic activity, location of the moon, and your exact location. To help you navigate your plan of action, there are apps that predict Northern Light activity and tell you when and where to go for your best chance at seeing the phenomenon. Here are a few popular apps available for iOS and Android:
Need help planning your trip up north? We can help you find accommodations and activities to fill your day with before you settle in and wait for the sky to set ablaze.
Odds are you'll take any excuse to take a short reprieve when October arrives. The newness of the school year wore off, and by then, the hustle and bustle of work and activities mount knowing an even busier holiday season looms around the bend.
An autumn break to Rainy Lake offers a unique splendor you deserve to experience. Two particular weekends come to mind: October 5-6 and October 19-20.
Changing Leaves: October 5-6
Nothing symbolizes fall more than leaves changing color, and the backdrop of Voyageur National Park provides a particularly gorgeous setting. While partial change begins in late September, the park reaches its peak during the weekend. Grab a light jacket, get on the water, and watch the ablaze foliage shimmer its spectrum of crimson and amber.
It's the time of year where the air crispens and wildlife begin their Minnesota goodbyes. See them before they leave for winter.
Orionid Meteor Shower: October 19-20
Late in the month, the remnants of Hailey's Comet explode through the sky off of the belt of the Orion constellation. Bundle up a bit, as temperatures will hover around freezing, or better yet, cozy up next to a loved one under a blanket and fix your eyes on the midnight sky. There's no need to pack a telescope or binoculars. Your naked eye is more than enough to see these interstellar ice shards vaulting their way through the darkness.
Experts predict the peak of the shower to happen on Monday or Tuesday if you can extend your visit, and you should. The light of the moon often masks the full meteor display, but in 2019, the lunar calendar predicts a three-quarter moon going into a dark, new moon. Less light. More magic.
Forget Friday Night Lights for one week and see natural wonders up close. You may even witness a more spectacular set of lights, the Northern Lights. Use our predictor tool to see what Aurora Borealis is up to during your visit.
September will come and go quicker than you think. Plan your mini vacation before it’s too late. We can help.