One of the attractions of the Salmonberry tour in Fairbanks was the opportunity to see the northern lights. Fairbanks is well-positioned with respect to the auroral oval so that on most evenings, if the sky is clear, one can see them. And we were there at the vernal equinox– spring: the weather was moderating, meaning that the daytime temps were approaching melting and at night they kept mostly above zero. At this high latitude however, the days are lengthening rapidly, and in a few more weeks, there won’t be much night left to see northern lights.
It was nice that the tour was focused on aurora viewing. There is always uncertainty: the aurora is not active every night, and clouds frequently obscure them when they are. To maximize the chance that we would see some northern lights sometime during the tour, three nights were scheduled for such viewing. Each took us to a viewing site away from the lights of Fairbanks and accommodated the needs of aurora viewers: a warming house, coffee and snacks, and alternate activities in the event of poor viewing. Oh, and a wifi connection so we could monitor the online real-time aurora activity reports being fed by satellites and observers on the ground.Continue reading