Experience the beauty of the northern lights in Saskatoon. Also known as the auroras, the northern lights illuminate the night sky with beautiful dancing colors and lights. Some of the best places to see this natural light display in Saskatoon include the city’s public parks, Meewasin Valley Authority trails, areas near the river, restaurant and hotel patios, and locations north of the city.
The northern lights in Saskatoon can typically be seen in the fall and winter months between early evening and midnight, with the best time being around 10 p.m.
The northern lights, also known as the auroras, are one of nature's most amazing light shows. They occur when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the Earth's atmosphere. These particles interact with atmospheric gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.
The gases begin to glow in colorful displays of reds, greens, pinks, and purples. The northern lights usually occur in colors ranging from pale green to pink, but during intense auroral storms, they can take on hues of deep red and purple.
The solar winds and the sun's magnetic fields are responsible for the spectacle of the northern lights seen in Saskatoon. Charged particles are emitted from the sun's atmosphere and are guided by the sun's magnetic fields through space. Sometimes disturbances in the sun, like solar flares, can cause especially strong eruptions of charged particles.
These particles then travel along the sun's magnetic fields in the solar wind and can reach Earth usually within one to three days. As the particles enter the upper part of the atmosphere, they collide with gas molecules and atoms, which causes them to excite. As these excited atoms and molecules return to a lower energy state, they emit light in wavelengths that make up the visible colors we see as the northern lights in Saskatoon.
While the northern lights can potentially be seen any clear night between September and April, the best time of night to view the dazzling display in Saskatoon is generally later in the evening until midnight. With less light pollution, the skies are darker beginning at around 10 p.m.
This allows the auroral lights to stand out against the black velvet of the night. On nights with high solar activity forecast, sticking it out until 11 p.m. or later increases the chances of catching a show. Be flexible though, as the lights can make a rare appearance even on a low-activity night. The greatest chances are during equinoxes.
One of the best ways to find where the northern lights might be visible in Saskatoon is to check an aurora forecast website. These sites use information from NASA and NOAA satellites to predict solar wind conditions and geomagnetic activity levels. During periods of high activity, getting away from city lights is key.
Some dark sky locations within 30 minutes of Saskatoon where the northern lights can often be spotted include Pike Lake Provincial Park and areas along Highway 11 north of the city.
Be prepared for variably cloudy conditions by frequent checking of forecasts and being ready to drive to alternative spots if skies cloud over. With some Northern Lights luck and clear winter weather, Saskatoon residents have excellent chances to experience this natural light show.
Some of the top spots for viewing the northern lights within Saskatoon include the city's large public parks which provide dark, open spaces away from light pollution.
Large parks like Kiwanis Memorial Park, Churchill Park, and Kinsmen Park are excellent for viewing the northern lights. With open green spaces stretching for hectares, they provide ample dark areas away from the city glow. Consider Kiwanis Memorial Park's multi-use paths around the large central pond and Churchill Park's trails winding through the river-side forest. Both see little ambient light pollution.
Trails under MVA's care like the Beaver Creek Conservation Area provide intimate views of the night sky among nature. Walk along the creekside boardwalk after hours for a peaceful northern lights experience with only natural sounds. Nearby Nature Interpretive Centre may also have astronomy programs during displays.
Stretches of the South Saskatchewan River like within Meewasin offer perfect vistas. Finding a spot just outside city limits will treat you to pitch-black skies without urban obstruction. Consider Queen Elizabeth Powered Natural Area for a picturesque riverside view.
For downtown convenience try Broadway Theater or Hotel Saskatchewan’s rooftop patios with cocktails in hand. Anorak’s riverfront deck also provides a cozy atmosphere away from public parks. Check restaurant schedules for late-night service during peak months.
Pike Lake Park takes you under truly dark pristine night skies 35km out. Be patient and you'll have Northern lights all to yourself with noncompeting light sources. Other dark sky spots include the Battlefords Lake area further north.
The northern lights are a true natural wonder that residents of Saskatoon have access to view throughout the fall, winter, and spring months given the right solar and weather conditions. With some patience awaiting optimal clear, dark skies, you have a good chance of bearing witness to this incredible light show known as the auroras right from locations within the city or a short drive north. Keep an eye on aurora forecasts and be ready for a magical experience of the celestial lights dancing high above Saskatoon's night sky.