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Northern lights: Where to see the best light show

Aug 6, 2012, 8:22 a.m.

For some of the best northern light shows in the world, every traveler should include plans to go north to view the fantastic light show that nature puts on every year. It is a spectacular phenomena known as Aurora Borealis that lights the northern skies in several countries throughout the world. Scientists believe the lights peak at the end of each 11-year cycle, and 2013 is expected to be a peak year.

According to Fodor's, a travel review site, www.fodors.com, the lights should be their brightest in the spring and fall of the year. Authorities say the best northern lights viewing is in Norway, where they claim the lights first show their fantastic colors each year between October and February. The Norwegians believe that because of their polar nights and northern proximity on the planet, the lights are easier to see. The optimal conditions are possible because of the cold nights with few clouds. The atmospheric gases come together to create breathtaking curtains of colors that can last for days. Cruises along the coast lines of Alta, Tromsa, Svalbard and Finmark are also popular. Cruise officials will issue wake-up calls in time for guests to view the lights on deck.

Fairbanks, Alaska is another favorite to view the "aurora oval." Locals claim the brightest occurrences happen here more often than anywhere else in the world. According to the Fairbanks Visitors Bureau, there is an 80 percent chance of viewing the phenomena if you are there three nights in a row. Denali, Anchorage, Juneau and Sitka are also positioned well for optimal viewing.

Canadians believe some areas in Canada provide year-round viewing of the lights. The mountains and tundra's at the northern-most parts are the most likely to offer spectacular views. The tundra of Nunavut in northeast Canada, the Yukon, located in the mountains to the northwest, Yellowknife, Quebec, Alberta, Manitoba and Labrador all offer great viewing sites.

Iceland, located between North America and Europe, offers some spectacular views along Lake Myvatn. Travelers can fly into the country, schedule tours or drive themselves for an unforgettable trip through Iceland.

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