December 30, 2017
We often get asked what it’s like in the winter. Particularly this time of year, there is concern over the lack of light. Questions like how do you stand it being dark all day? Does the sun come up? What do you do? If you can’t see, how can you drive anywhere? Here are different views of the setting sun and rising moon from the same location at 3 in the afternoon.
Setting winter sun
Rising moon at 3
Winter, December in particular, is all about light. The Northern lights, Christmas trees with lights, the city sidewalks lit up, the moonlight at mid-day, and, of course, that brilliant sun right on the horizon, shining so brightly that one needs sunglasses to drive. As we come into New Year’s Eve, there are fireworks at the University. (Conversely, we don’t have much for fireworks for the fourth of July—there is just too much light to enjoy any large fireworks display)
Alaska is a land of extremes, and this excess is truly loved. We revel in the seemingly endless days of summer sun, and are awed by the long, long nights of northern lights. Summers seem to compel us to excess of activity, and the winter drives us inside to seek warmth, with perhaps the opposite effect, slowing us down somewhat.
As we move slowly toward more than just our limited three hours and forty minutes of actual sunrise to sunset, more and more visitors come to view the lights—the aurora borealis, that mystical, ethereal appearance in the sky that either spans the sky expansively, or evades illusively, coming and going as though through some whimsical algorithm. If you are planning a visit, please ‘view the best spots to see the Northern Lights‘, our printable aurora fact sheet, and visit our blog for more Alaska and aurora facts.
November 30, 2017
Now that we actually have snow and cold, we can offer the star-struck skies and awe-inspiring aurora viewing to those who travel from around the world to see this wonder.
Pieces of advice.
Check the best spots for Aurora viewing.
Don’t waste your sleep if it is snowing outside and clouds are low-lying. If it’s not clear, you won’t be able to see the northern lights. Look for stars; if you can see a few, then perhaps it’s worth losing sleep to stay awake and chance that skies will clear enough to see the lights.
Check the aurora forecasts—most notably, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute has a website with forecasts nightly and even weekly. The website is http://www.gi.alaska.edu/AuroraForecast. According to their website, these are the recommended sites around Fairbanks for getting away from city lights:
- Chena Lakes Recreation Area
- Ester, Wickersham, and Murphy Domes
- Haystack Mountain
- Some turnouts along the Elliot, Steese, and Parks Highways
- Cleary Summit
If you are interested in taking pictures, (and need a little help like I do with photography skills), you might enjoy my new favorite app—aptly named “Aurora.” It will automatically adjust the settings on your phone to help you capture the faint glows in that faraway sky.
Additionally, there are many tour guides who offer to drive you to different locations where you can enjoy the warmth of their vehicle (not to mention not worry about unknown road conditions) and wait for the aurora to show up.
Even though I have lived here for fifty plus years, it is still amazing to see the aurora shimmer across the sky.
March 12, 2015
Now that the trails are filled with Iditarod mushers on the way to Nome, and the Great North American is just around the corner, Alaskans reach with gusto to enjoy the final stretch of winter.
Sled dogs anxious to run
With all the great races in March, there are additional attractions on the more leisurely side. In this case, the occasional meandering moose that wander through the neighborhood, or even stop on the street to munch on branches.
How about great sunrises and sunsets?
Crystal clear sunrise
Better yet, many visitors set their sights on the northern lights.
Northern lights above the arches
Whichever kind of activity you choose this month, they are all here in our backyard, waiting for your visit.
And while it may be cold right now, we offer a warm welcome to you as you come to enjoy our wild, and not so wild attractions.