Northern Lights in Michigan

The Northern Lights are a well-known phenomenon that can be seen in countries such as Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden due to their location near the Artic regions. Not often is Michigan a recommended location to view the Northern Lights. While the chances are much lower than in the countries mentioned above, it is possible. Learn more about seeing the Northern Lights in Michigan below.  

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, is a natural light display that is caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. These charged particles are drawn towards the Earth’s poles by the planet’s magnetic field, where they collide with gas molecules in the atmosphere. These collisions produce a beautiful stunning light show of green, pink and purple in the sky.

When are the Northern Lights visible in Michigan?

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Michigan is during the fall and winter months when the nights are longer and darker. The transitions from fall to winter in October and November and from winter to spring in March and April are commonly when Michiganders report seeing the Northern Lights. When looking for the Northern Lights in Michigan, it is important that you do it on a clear night when there isn’t a threat of snow.

Scientists can usually predict 24 to 48 hours before the Northern Lights are visible in Michigan. It is best to use a tracker such as Aurora Live, to determine the chances of spotting the Aurora Borealis in Michigan.

Where can I see the Northern Lights in Michigan?

The Northern Lights are visible at times in both the Upper Peninsula and Lower Peninsula. No matter where you are in Michigan, it’s important to note that viewing the Northern Lights is dependent on several factors, including solar activity, weather conditions, and light pollution. Be sure to check the weather forecast and the Aurora forecast before heading out to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

Where can you see the Northern Lights in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula?

The likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights is higher in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The area has relatively low levels of light pollution in many areas. Here are some places in the UP that are known for their Northern Lights viewing opportunities:

Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park – Located in Ontonagon, this park is one of the largest state parks in Michigan and offers expansive views of the night sky.

Copper Harbor – Located at the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Copper Harbor is known for its clear skies and is a popular spot for stargazing and Northern Lights viewing.

Marquette – The city of Marquette is located on the shores of Lake Superior and is another popular location for Northern Lights viewing due to its location and relatively low levels of light pollution.

Where can you see the Northern Lights in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula?

While the Upper Peninsula is more frequently recommended for spotting the Northern Lights, the Lower Peninsula has opportunities too.

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore – Located on the northwest coast of the Lower Peninsula, this park offers clear views of the northern horizon and has relatively low levels of light pollution.

Headlands International Dark Sky Park – Located in Mackinaw City, this park is known for its dark skies, making it an excellent place to see the Northern Lights.

Mackinac Island – This historic island in Lake Huron is another location with clear views of the northern horizon and minimal light pollution.

What time of day is best to see the Northern Lights in Michigan?  

The best time to see the Northern Lights in Michigan is often between 10 pm and 2 am when the sky is typically darkest. Again, the Northern Lights are unpredictable, and it is important to check the Aurora forecast before venturing out to catch a glimpse of the impressive light show.

Have you seen the Northern Lights in Michigan?

Let us know where you saw the Northern Lights so other Michiganders can enjoy the spectacular light display! We’d love to see your pictures too!