The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) are a naturally occurring phenomenon caused by collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere and charged particles released from the sun. The differences in color are caused by the different types of gas particles that are doing the colliding. We are blessed with some of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Michigan!
History of the Northern Lights in Michigan
Historically, Aurora Borealis has had many interpretations. The Maori, of New Zealand, believed them to be the fires and torches of people living far north. Inuit tribes of Alaska looked to the lights to see representations of their ancestors and the animals that they hunted. A little closer to home, the Menominee of Wisconsin thought the lights were the lanterns of a group of giants that lived to the north.
Regardless of how they work or the beliefs behind them, the Aurora Borealis is beautiful and the Mitten is blessed to have such a good seat in this natural light show.
Where is the Best Place to Watch the Northern Lights in Michigan?
Northern Michigan is full of quiet, remote, and dark places that are perfect for watching the Northern Lights in Michigan. So go grab the family and a blanket and find a spot that is free from any type of light and enjoy the Northern Lights in Michigan.
Headlands International Dark Sky Park in Mackinaw City
The sixth International Dark Sky Park in the U.S., exploring Headlands International Dark Sky Park is one of the best things to do in Mackinaw City, especially if you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights! Over 600 acres along more than two miles of Lake Michigan shoreline in Emmet County provides a perfect stargazing paradise.
Lake Superior’s Shoreline in the Upper Peninsula
With its proximity to the North Pole and its lack of light pollution, the Upper Peninsula is a prime place for watching the Northern Lights in Michigan. Lake Superior’s high shorelines give sky-gazers a full, unobstructed view of the night’s lights, making it one of the best places to see Aurora Borealis.
Port Crescent State Park in Port Austin
The dark sky preserve in Port Crescent State Park gives stargazers the perfect setting for catching a shooting star or a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Michigan! Competent kayakers might even enjoy a nighttime venture to Turnip Rock for nature’s best light show.
When is the Best Time to See the Northern Lights in Michigan?
The Northern Lights in Michigan can often be seen between the months of August and April, with the peak months being March, April, October, and November. Solar activity tends to be highest during the transition from fall to winter and winter to spring, adding to the chances of catching Aurora Borealis in Michigan!
The actual timing of the Northern Lights can be difficult to predict, and most predictions are made within 24-48 hours of the actual display. Pick a clear, crisp night for the best chance at catching the Northern Lights on display in Michigan. The best app to predict the lights is Space Weather Live, which can predict them up to an hour before they become visible.
Watch the Northern Lights in Michigan
Unable to catch the Northern Lights in Michigan live? Check out this time-lapse video of the Northern Lights from 2011.
More Photos of the Northern Lights in Michigan
In March 2021, the Aurora Borealis was on full display across much of Michigan, and the best Michigan landscape photographers did not let us down. We’ve gathered some of the best photos of the Northern Lights in Michigan to share with you…
Where have you seen the Northern Lights in Michigan?