Experts say 2024 will be the best year in two decades to see the Northern Lights - but, why?

Experts say 2024 will be the best year in two decades to see the Northern Lights - but, why?

Witnessing dancing prism of celestial symphony known as the Aurora Borealis is a once in a lifetime experience, and it could be more visible than ever before
10 January 24
Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis

If experts are right, 2024 promises to be an exceptional year for witnessing the once-in-a-lifetime spectacle of the Northern Lights — and not just in countries lying in the far north of the northern hemisphere.

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, astronomers and space weather experts have forecast heightened solar activity, marked by a peak in the sun's 11-year cycle known as the solar maximum. This peak in the sun's cycle lends itself to a surge in solar flares and sunspots which are believed to contribute to a more active and vibrant display of the Northern Lights.

The Northern Lights are often described as 'dancing' across the skies, in waves of vibrant hues of green, pink, purple, and blue.

This predicted increase in solar activity will enhance the visibility and intensity of the auroras, making 2024 an ideal time for the wanderlust to (try) witness this celestial phenomenon.

Northern regions around the Arctic Circle, like Norway, Iceland, Canada, and Alaska, often are the go-to destinations for those in search of a glimpse of the Northern Lights, and this year these locations are expected to offer prime viewing opportunities.

Additionally, due to this phase of the sun's cycle, experts anticipate that during the solar maximum, the Northern Lights might extend further south, with the lights being spotted already across the UK, Ireland and even Texas in the United States. The potential for spotting the Northern Lights in unusual locations only adds a further element of unpredictability and in turn, to the excitement of the chase.

According to studies conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the International Space Environment Services (ISES) — associated bodies of NASA — January through to October of this year, the solar maximum is expected to peak, and be stronger and more intense than the last solar maximum of 2019.