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Northern Lights

Aurora Borealis, northern lights

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are mesmerizing, dynamic displays of light that appear in the night time northern skies. The Aurora is caused by energetic particles that enter the atmosphere from above and create the luminous glow of the upper atmosphere. There are few sights that equal the magic and mystery of these brilliant waves of color dancing in the cool night air.

Fort McMurray is located within the auroral band that roughly centers on the 65th parallel, we are privileged to watch the Aurora Borealis dance most cold, clear evenings from October to March.

However, nature doesn’t follow a schedule and viewings on hot August nights are common. The aurora may appear for hours at a time or disappear in the blink of an eye. Patience and persistence are often required but the experience and memories are priceless.

Viewing Tips

  • Check the forecast at AURORAWATCH.CA.
  • The best times to view the aurora are around midnight, but they can often be seen anytime from 9pm to 3am.
  • Aurora viewing is affected by a variety of factors, such as cloud cover, moonlight, and urban light pollution.
  • Aurora is often seen within the urban area of Fort McMurray but the light pollution can make it difficult to see the aurora, so head a few minutes out of town for better viewing.
  • Be patient, wear warm clothes and bring something warm to drink.
  • Look in the direction of North and North East

Photography Tips

  • Use an SLR camera with a wide angle lens
  • High speed film, 200 to 400 ISO
  • Use manual settings and turn off all automatic features
  • Use a tripod and cable release to prevent jarring
  • Vary exposures anywhere from 15 to 60 seconds
  • Don’t use filters
  • Carry spare batteries in a warm place as the cold can cause them to lose power


Experience a Northern Canadian Adventure with our Aurora Borealis tour with

Northern Lights Outdoor Excursions:

Enjoy 2 nights and 3 days starting at $759 +tax based on double occupancy (Minimum Tour of 10 people)

This once in a life-time package includes:

  • Transportation to and from the airport and aurora viewing location
  • Three Aurora Borealis Showing - including hot drink and snacks
  • Complimentary daily breakfast and dinner upon arrival
  • Two nights at a newly renovated fully serviced hotel with onsite fitness, pool, business centre, restaurant and lounge.

Optional Activities & Tours:

  • snowmobile tours with Adventure Borealis
  • ice fishing with Adventure Borealis
  • ski, snowboarding, and tubing at Vista Ridge
  • MacDonald Island Park
  • Aerial tours
  • Brewery tours

Tour dates:

March 4 - 6, 2016
March 11 - 13, 2016

April 1 - 3, 2016
April 8 - 10, 2016

May 6 - 8, 2016
May 12 - 15 2016

September 2 - 4,​ 2016​
September 9 - 11, 2016​
September 30 -  October 2​, 2016​

October 21 - 23​, 2016​​
October 28 - 30​, 2016​​​

November 18 - 20, 2016
November 25 - 28, 2016

December 2 - 4, 2016
December 9 - 11, 2016
December 16 - 19 2016

Book your tour today!  Click here to find out more.


Jean Westbrook: Area Sales Coordinator (403) 474-4934

[email protected]


Alta-Can Aurora Tours


First there was Winter Aurora viewing tours, then Autumn Aurora viewing tours were added, then late Summer Aurora viewing tours and now, the most exciting of all, SPRING AURORA VIEWING TOURS

What makes Spring Aurora Viewing possible? The answer is LOCATION. Some very basis information about the Aurora and darkness:

  • Electrically charged particles from the Sun are blasted out from the surface of the sun all the time. The particles travel on solar winds all over the Universe. Many solar winds come to the earth and enter our north and south magnetic poles to collide with atoms in our atmosphere to create the phenomenon known as the Aurora. This activity continues on an ongoing basis throughout the year
  • The reason we cannot see the Aurora in the Spring and Summer is that we do not have enough darkness (the days are too long). The further north a destination is, the sooner it gets long periods of daylight and very short periods of darkness (if darkness at all)
  • The Aurora forms ovals or rings around the northern and southern parts of the earth (Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis).  Being under these Ovals gives one the best opportunity to view the Aurora. Interestingly to note, the Aurora Oval can get much wider when the geomagnetic activity (causing the Aurora) gets stronger. In such a case, the Auroral Oval expands towards the Equator (southward for the Aurora Borealis and northward for the Aurora Australis)
  • This brings us to LOCATION. Fort McMurray is located under the southern edge of the Auroral Oval. All other Aurora destinations are significantly further north. The result is that Fort McMurray has darkness much longer than the other destinations during the Spring and as such the Aurora can be viewed later into the year
  • Re. darkness (
    • May15: sunset at 21:36 and darkness at 22:39
    • Alta-Can Aurora Tours only conducts tours during times when the Moon is not an obstacle to viewing the Aurora (Aurora viewing tours during the New Moon Cycle)

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