The northern lights are a truly remarkable spectacle, with curtains of light dancing across the sky, twisting and turning to the whims of Earth’s magnetic field. Nothing quite beats seeing the dazzling performance with your own eyes.
Unfortunately for most of us, we simply don’t live far enough north for the aurora borealis or south enough for the aurora australis (also known as the southern lights). Only during heightened solar activity can strong geomagnetic storms shift auroras further from the polar regions and surprise skywatchers at lower latitudes. Lucky for us, there are many aurora webcams at our fingertips, poised to capture the northern lights wherever they may appear.
Related: Where to see the northern lights: Aurora borealis guide
Auroras are generated when energized particles from the sun collide with Earth’s upper atmosphere and are funneled toward the poles by our planet’s magnetic field. When the electrically charged particles enter Earth’s atmosphere they excite gas atoms and molecules, sparking auroras. The process works in a similar fashion to neon lights: When the molecules and atoms get “excited” by electrons, they must return to their original energy (ground state) and do so by releasing the energy as photons (light). The color of the neon light depends on the gas mixture inside the tube, just like the color of auroras depends on the gas mixture in the atmosphere.
Auroras occur all year round but are more visible during winter’s long nights. Here we’ve rounded up some of the best aurora webcams from around the world. Please note that many aurora webcams are shut off during the summer months due to the extended daylight hours.
Lights Over Lapland is a family-run aurora tour company in Abisko National Park, Sweden. They also have numerous virtual aurora tours to choose from so you can experience the wonder of the northern lights from the comfort of your own home.
You can watch the northern lights from Utsjoki in Lapland, Finland, courtesy of Aurora Service Tours. The aurora tour company has been running multi-day dedicated northern lights holidays in Finland since 2014.
Spåkenes peninsula, Norway
Experience the northern lights from the glass igloo hotel Lyngen North in northern Norway. Located by the Lyngenfjord on the Spåkenes peninsula, the hotel is in a prime location for aurora viewing opportunities.
Watch the aurora borealis from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, courtesy of Explore.org — an extensive network of nature cams from all over the world.
Keep an eye on the skies above Banff, Canada with this livestream courtesy of Sunshine Village Ski & Snowboard Resort. During heightened solar activity eagle-eyed observers may catch a glimpse of auroras dancing above Wawa Ridge and Mt Bourgeau in the background.