Head’s up, aurora watchers! If you live in Metro Vancouver and have been patiently awaiting your chance to see the Northern Lights up close, keep reading. The skies are clearing up and we could be in for a real treat tonight!

According to Canada’s Aurora Forecast and The University of Alaska Fairbanks, an active aurora watch has been issued for Monday, May 8th and Tuesday, May 9th, with “highly active auroral displays” visible overhead from Inuvik, Yellowknife to Portland, Oregon.

Aurora Forecast predicts a good chance of isolated “minor auroral substorms and favourable conditions for major aurora activity.”

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northern lights vancouver
Screenshot via University of Alaska Fairbanks

According to the University, the best time to watch for an aurora display is three or four hours around midnight. Although weather and sunrise and sunset times also determine the level of visibility.

Currently, Environment Canada forecasts a partly cloudy night on May 8th, and clear skies on May 9th, which means there’s never been a better time to see that magical green glow with the naked eye!

The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center also predicts a high level of activity for the night of May 8th, with a view line that reaches the middle of Washington state.

northern lights vancouver
Photo via NOAA

Note that spectators can view the Northern Lights from as far as 1,000 km away, given that weather conditions are favourable. So if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse tonight or tomorrow, your odds are looking pretty good from where we’re standing!

Below are some viewing tips from the NOAA:

  • Pick a north-facing spot, on top of a hill if possible
  • Get as far away from light pollution as possible
  • Head out between 10 pm and 2 am for the most active displays

So if you’re in Vancouver, that means heading to Spanish Banks or somewhere dark with unobstructed views of the north.

And with that, happy aurora watching!