The natural world overflows with incredible sights—the kind of things that fill with awe and force us to view ourselves as one part of a greater whole, tiny atoms in a universe impossibly vast and beautiful in its magnificent design. Unfortunately, nature is also outside and outside can be too cold or too hot, and sometimes there are even bugs around. Fortunately, thanks to the internet, this is no longer a barrier, and natural phenomena as stunning as the aurora borealis itself can now be watched from the comfort of our climate-controlled homes.
The Northern Lights are currently at peak visibility and Explore.org, the same website that provides us with the annual Fat Bear Week, has set up a livestream that allows the entire world a chance to watch. Created with assistance from Polar Bears International and the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, the broadcast captures real-time footage of the skies above Churchill, Manitoba.
[UPDATE THURSDAY 2/18: Though we first published this story in 2020, the northern lights stream is back, which is great news for anyone out there who’d rather stare at serene sky videos than look at or think about anything else right now. This year, its organizers are also celebrating International Polar Bear Day (February 27) in connection with the stream by hosting live events that share educational material on climate change and soliciting donations for its polar bear habitat conservation efforts. We felt the polar bears could use our help, so we wanted to get this story in front of your eyeballs again.]
At the time of writing, there’s only an expanse of grey sky and a snowy field to look at, but it’s a lot more exciting overnight. Mashable’s Mark Kaufman spoke to Polar Bears International’s executive director, Krista Wright, who explains that the best time to watch the Lights is from 10:00 PM to 4:00 AM (EST) during February and March since “there tends to be clear, cloudless nights over Churchill this time of year.” Kaufman’s article also provides links to My Aurora Forecast and the Space Weather Prediction Center’s Aurora forecast, which will help viewers fit witnessing one of our planet’s most incredible sights from home into busy schedules already booked with The Circle marathons.
Check the stream throughout the next month and a half to watch the Northern Lights for yourself.
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