These 15 Photos Capture the Beauty of the Northern Lights

It’s a phenomenon that reminds us our planet is beautiful and full of wonder. The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, dance around the heavens in dazzling hues for us to enjoy.

While your best shot of glimpsing the aurora in the United States is by traveling up to Alaska, recent months have brought more frequent sightings in the lower 48. Scientists say increased solar activity since the end of last year is prompting the stunning displays, and 2024 could bring even more incredible views. But if you can’t make the trek north or stay up all night to catch a glimpse, here are 15 gorgeous shots of the spectral spectacle.

The earliest known record of the northern lights dates back to around 679-655 B.C.E., when Assyrian astronomers documented an aurora on cuneiform tablets.

Stan Honda, Norway, 2015

Northern Lights in the nigh sky above a church

Numerous stars create a static effect in the sky above an old Nordic church as the northern lights dance overhead.

James Broome, Norway, 2014

A reflection of the aurora borealis illuminates the icy waters

A reflection of the aurora borealis illuminates the icy waters of the Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Michal Zielinski, Iceland, 2020

two people are by silhouetted the night sky

Even alone, seeing the northern lights is a memorable experience, but it’s special to share the moment with a friend.

Gretchen Chomas, Washington, 2022

Norther lights colors  blue, purple, maroon, green and other hues paint the night sky

The colors of the northern lights vary: Here, blues, purples, maroons, greens and other hues paint the night sky.

Elizabeth M. Ruggiero, Alaska, 2016

the milky way illuminating the night sky

Along the Teton River, the Milky Way galaxy seems to mushroom as lights of the aurora borealis make a cameo appearance.

Scott Mcleod, Idaho, 2018

a car on snow during the night

If your car becomes stuck in a snowdrift underneath the northern lights, take the opportunity to enjoy the show.

Saimi Bauters, Norway, 2017

snowy mountain peaks on the water at night

Peeking between the mountain peaks, the lights of the aurora borealis seem to arch like a rainbow.

W. Kent Williamson, Norway, 2019

a dog-sled team moves forward in the snow

A dog-sled team leads the way on a hunt for the northern lights in action.

Vadim Gorodnitsky, Finland 2022

A reflection of the aurora borealis illuminates the icy waters

A reflection of the aurora borealis illuminates the icy waters of the Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon.

Michal Zielinski, Iceland, 2020

a cabin in the snow with Northern Lights above

Available for rent, Kelopirtti cottage offers great views of the northern lights. Grab an Adirondack chair and a blanket, and enjoy the show.

Joost van Veen, Finland, 2015

tall pinestrees with the night sky above

Tall trees seem to point the way and lead eyes upward toward the bright phenomenon.

Lynsey Schroeder, Alaska, 2018

green streeks light in the night sky above a snow covered ground

Holiday lights on your home or tree are lovely, but on this Christmas night in Finland, the sky offered a much grander option.

Nicholas Benvenuto, Finland, 2021

A waterall at night with the bright sky above

The waters of the Godafoss waterfall match the greenish hue of the northern lights dancing above.

Jan Šmíd, Godafoss, Iceland, 2016

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