Edmonton's Purple Aurora: A Spectacular Natural Wonder


Edmonton's Purple Aurora is a breathtaking natural wonder that has captivated locals and visitors alike. This rare phenomenon occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with gases in the Earth's atmosphere, creating a stunning display of purple and green lights in the sky. Only a few places around the world have been lucky enough to witness this spectacle, and Edmonton is one of them.

In this blog post, we'll delve into the science behind the Purple Aurora and explore why it's such a unique occurrence. We'll also share some of the best places in Edmonton to view this natural wonder, as well as tips for capturing it on camera. Additionally, we'll discuss the cultural significance of the Aurora and how it has been celebrated throughout history. Whether you're a seasoned photographer or simply looking to experience something truly awe-inspiring, Edmonton's Purple Aurora is not to be missed.

The Science Behind the Phenomenon

The Aurora Borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights, is a natural phenomenon that occurs in the polar regions. It is a breathtaking display of colorful lights that dance across the sky, leaving spectators in awe. But what exactly is the Aurora Borealis, and how is it formed?

What is the Aurora Borealis?

The Aurora Borealis is a natural light display caused by the collision of charged particles from the sun with atoms in the Earth's atmosphere. These charged particles are carried by solar winds and are attracted to the Earth's magnetic field. As they enter the atmosphere, they collide with atoms of oxygen and nitrogen, causing them to emit light.

The colors of the Aurora Borealis depend on which atoms are being excited. Oxygen atoms produce green and red light, while nitrogen atoms produce blue and purple light. The purple Aurora is rarer than the green Aurora because it requires a specific combination of atmospheric conditions.

How Solar Activity Affects the Intensity of the Aurora

Solar activity plays a significant role in the intensity of the Aurora Borealis. Solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are two types of solar activity that can impact the Aurora.

Solar flares are bursts of energy that occur on the surface of the sun. When a solar flare occurs, it sends a burst of charged particles towards Earth. If these particles collide with Earth's magnetic field, they can cause an increase in auroral activity.

CMEs are massive eruptions of plasma and magnetic fields from the sun's corona. When a CME reaches Earth, it can cause a disturbance in our planet's magnetic field, resulting in an increase in auroral activity.

The purple Aurora is rarer than the green Aurora because it requires a specific combination of atmospheric conditions. The nitrogen molecules must be at an altitude between 100-200 km above Earth's surface, and there must be a low level of solar activity. When these conditions are met, the nitrogen molecules emit purple light, creating a stunning display of the Aurora Borealis.

Viewing and Photographing the Aurora in Edmonton

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a breathtaking natural phenomenon that can be seen in Edmonton. The dancing lights in the sky are caused by solar particles colliding with Earth's atmosphere, creating a stunning display of colors and patterns. If you're planning to view or photograph the Aurora in Edmonton, here are some tips to help you make the most of your experience.

Best Places to View the Northern Lights in Edmonton

To get the best view of the Aurora in Edmonton, it's important to find a location with minimal light pollution. Dark sky preserves, such as Elk Island National Park and Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, are ideal locations for viewing the Northern Lights. These areas have strict lighting regulations to minimize light pollution and provide an optimal viewing experience.

If you can't make it to a dark sky preserve, there are other locations in Edmonton where you can still see the Aurora. Some popular spots include:

  • Hawrelak Park

  • Rundle Park

  • Gold Bar Park

  • Victoria Park Oval

When choosing a location to view the Aurora, keep in mind that you'll need an unobstructed view of the northern horizon. Look for a spot with a clear view of the sky and minimal obstructions such as trees or buildings.

Tips for Photographing the Aurora in Edmonton

Capturing photos of the Aurora can be challenging, but with some preparation and practice, you can take stunning photos of this natural wonder. Here are some tips for photographing the Aurora in Edmonton:

  • Use a tripod: To avoid blurry photos, use a tripod or stable surface to keep your camera steady.

  • Recommended camera settings: Set your camera to manual mode and use a wide-angle lens with a low aperture (f/2.8 or lower). Use a high ISO (1600-3200) and a shutter speed of 15-30 seconds.

  • How to capture the colors of the Aurora: Adjust your white balance to "daylight" or "auto" to capture the true colors of the Aurora. Avoid using filters or adjusting the saturation in post-processing.

  • Tips for getting the perfect shot: Experiment with different compositions and angles to find the best shot. Try including a foreground element, such as trees or a lake, to add depth and interest to your photos.

Remember, patience is key when photographing the Aurora. The lights can be unpredictable, so be prepared to wait for the perfect moment to capture your shot.

Cultural Significance of the Aurora for Indigenous Communities

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is a natural wonder that has fascinated people around the world for centuries. For many Indigenous communities in Canada, the Aurora holds a special cultural significance that goes beyond its beauty and scientific explanations.

The Aurora in Indigenous Mythology and Folklore

Indigenous cultures across Canada have their own unique interpretations of the Aurora. In some traditions, the lights are seen as spirits of ancestors who have passed on. In others, they are believed to be messages from the spirit world or a sign of good luck. Many Indigenous stories and legends feature the Aurora as a central element, often portraying it as a powerful force that can bring both blessings and misfortune.

For example, in Inuit mythology, the Aurora is known as "Aqsarniit" or "The Pathway Home". It is believed that when people pass away, their souls travel along this pathway to reach the afterlife. Similarly, in Cree culture, the Aurora is seen as a bridge between the physical and spiritual worlds.

The Aurora as a Symbol of Reconciliation

In recent years, there has been a growing effort to incorporate Indigenous perspectives into tourism activities related to the Aurora. This includes working with Indigenous communities to develop cultural tours and educational programs that highlight the significance of the lights in Indigenous culture.

However, it is important to recognize that these efforts must be done in a respectful and meaningful way. Indigenous knowledge and traditions should not be exploited for commercial gain or treated as mere entertainment. Instead, they should be valued and respected as an integral part of Canada's cultural heritage.

As visitors to Edmonton and other parts of Canada seek out opportunities to view the Aurora, it is important to remember that this natural wonder holds deep meaning for many Indigenous communities. By learning about and respecting these traditions, we can all gain a deeper appreciation for this awe-inspiring phenomenon.

History and Impact of Aurora Sightings in Edmonton

Edmonton has a long history of Aurora sightings, dating back to the earliest recorded observations by Indigenous communities in the region. These early sightings were often accompanied by cultural significance and spiritual beliefs, with the Aurora being seen as a powerful force in nature.

Over time, as Edmonton grew and developed, Aurora sightings became less frequent due to increased light pollution and other environmental factors. However, there have been notable events throughout Edmonton's history that have brought the Aurora back into the public eye.

One such event was the massive solar storm of 1859, which caused widespread Aurora sightings across North America. In Edmonton, this event was documented by local newspapers and sparked renewed interest in the phenomenon.

In more recent years, efforts have been made to reduce light pollution in Edmonton and improve Aurora visibility. This includes initiatives such as the Dark Sky Preserve at Elk Island National Park, which aims to protect natural night skies from light pollution.

However, weather conditions also play a significant role in Aurora visibility. Cloud cover can obscure the Aurora from view, while clear skies provide optimal viewing conditions. Edmonton's location in northern Alberta means that it is often subject to harsh winter weather conditions, which can make Aurora viewing challenging.

Despite these challenges, many Edmontonians continue to be captivated by the beauty and wonder of the Aurora. Whether viewed from the city or out in nature, the Northern Lights remain a powerful symbol of nature's majesty and mystery.

The Aurora as a Tourist Attraction and Source of Inspiration

The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, have long been a source of fascination for people all over the world. In recent years, the Purple Aurora in Edmonton has become a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from far and wide to witness this spectacular natural wonder.

The Aurora as a Tourist Attraction in Edmonton

Aurora tourism has grown significantly in recent years, with more and more people seeking out destinations where they can experience this awe-inspiring phenomenon. Edmonton has become one of the top destinations for Aurora tourism, thanks to its location in the heart of the Aurora Belt and its reputation for offering some of the best viewing opportunities in North America.

The economic impact of Aurora tourism on Edmonton cannot be overstated. According to a report by Travel Alberta, Aurora tourism generates millions of dollars in revenue for the city each year. This includes spending on accommodations, food and beverage, transportation, and other activities.

However, with the increase in Aurora tourism comes new challenges and opportunities for sustainable tourism. It is important for local businesses and organizations to work together to ensure that tourism is managed responsibly and that the natural environment is protected for future generations.

The Aurora as a Source of Inspiration for Art and Literature

The Purple Aurora has not only captured the attention of tourists but has also inspired artists and writers from around the world. From paintings to poetry, the Aurora has been a subject of creative expression for centuries.

One example of how the Aurora has inspired art is through the work of Canadian painter Lawren Harris. Harris was a member of the Group of Seven, a group of Canadian landscape painters who were active in the early 20th century. His painting "Northern Lights" depicts a stunning display of green and purple lights dancing across a dark sky.

In literature, the Aurora has been used as a symbol of beauty, mystery, and wonder. In his poem "Aurora Borealis," American poet Robert Frost describes the Aurora as "a light to spellbind night." The unique qualities of the Purple Aurora, with its vibrant shades of purple and pink, make it an especially captivating subject for artists and writers.

Commemorate Your Experience with Edmonton Northern Lights Postcard

If you're lucky enough to witness the stunning purple aurora in Edmonton, why not commemorate your experience with a postcard? The Edmonton Northern Lights postcard features a beautiful image of the aurora, capturing its otherworldly beauty. It's the perfect way to remember your trip and share your experience with loved ones.

Not only is it a great keepsake for yourself, but it also makes for a unique greeting card. Send it to friends and family as a way to share your travels and spread some joy. Plus, who wouldn't love receiving a beautiful postcard in the mail?

The Edmonton Northern Lights postcard is also a great addition to any travel collection. Commemorate every place you've traveled with a postcard, creating a tangible reminder of your adventures. And with its high-quality image and sturdy construction, this postcard is sure to last for years to come.

So don't forget to pick up an Edmonton Northern Lights postcard on your next trip to see the aurora. It's a simple yet meaningful way to capture the magic of this natural wonder and share it with others.


In conclusion, the Purple Aurora is a breathtaking natural wonder that showcases the beauty and complexity of our planet's natural systems. It offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature and appreciate the wonders of our world. Whether you're a photographer, artist, or simply someone who loves the outdoors, witnessing this phenomenon is an experience you won't forget.

If you haven't seen the Purple Aurora yet, we encourage you to make plans to visit Edmonton and witness this incredible natural phenomenon for yourself. Remember to respect the environment and Indigenous knowledge and traditions while you're there.

Let us all take a moment to appreciate the beauty of our planet and do our part in preserving it for future generations to come. The Purple Aurora is just one example of how amazing nature can be, and we should cherish it every chance we get.

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