This is expected to be an amazing, and rare, week for spotting the Northern Lights in Canada, due to a huge geomagnetic storm.
According to the Space Weather Prediction Center, the lights are “a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth.”
Fortunately, we might even get a glimpse of nature’s light show around Vancouver, in some of the more secluded areas of the Metro Vancouver region, away from the light pollution of dense urban areas.
Although the faint glow of the Aurora Borealis should be visible from the city with only the human eye, the LCD viewfinder of a DSLR camera will provide you with a more detailed depiction of what is in front of you.
Whether you’re using your own eyes or taking it in via technology, here is our guide for where to spot the Northern Lights in Vancouver, when the conditions are right:
Head to the sand for a perfect spot to soak in the Northern Lights. On a clear night you can get a great shot of the mountains with nature’s light show firing off behind them.
Where: The westernmost area of the beach next to Pacific Spirit Park.
Head up to the northern face of the mountain that’s home to Simon Fraser University for prime stargazing and lights viewing. It’s far enough from the centre of both Vancouver and Burnaby to sufficiently escape the light pollution, but convenient enough that it’s not burdensome to get to.
Where: Take exit 37 off Highway 1 and follow the signs for Simon Fraser University.
This provincial park located along the Sea To Sky Highway sits just before Squamish and is far enough away from the lights of Vancouver to give a clear view of the Aurora Borealis. Note that certain hour restrictions apply, as it is a provincial park. And please do not park along the highway as your car will be towed away.
Where: In Squamish along the Sea to Sky Highway.
Delta and Tsawwassen
With vast empty farmlands, few view obstructions and very little light pollution, Delta and Tsawwassen are close enough to be convenient, but far enough away to avoid the bright lights of Vancouver.
Where: Take the 99, then the 17 or 17A from downtown.
Cleveland Dam Field
Those in North Van can head up to Cleveland Dam to escape the glare of the city and on a good night catch a glimpse of Aurora Borealis. The reflective surface of the reservoir is also the perfect foil for those of you who know your way around a camera.
Where: At the end of Capilano Road, North Vancouver
Iona Beach Regional Park in Richmond
Located just north of YVR, Iona Beach Regional Park is made up of a long jetty of sand and grass along the mouth of the Fraser River. If the conditions are right, you can get a great view of the light show alongside unobstructed vistas of the Georgia Strait.
Where: North of Vancouver International Airport.