Home Culture Northern Lights May Be Visible from NYC, and No, It’s Not an April Fools Joke

Northern Lights May Be Visible from NYC, and No, It’s Not an April Fools Joke

by Jennifer Tripucka
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The Northern Lights is a phenomenon that most often is associated with Iceland, Alaska, and other Arctic regions, but on rare occasions, this phenomenon heads south. So when we heard that the aurora borealis *might* be visible from the New York City area, we were thrilled…until we realized that it’s April Fool’s, and thought — what are the chances? But, turns out this is actually true and is not an April Fool’s joke.

northern lights nyc 2022

Even when you travel to the Arctic, these colorful waves of light are elusive and difficult given the weather and night, never promised, so it’s a toss-up regardless of region. The celestial light show, however, is expected Friday or Saturday evening in the New York region, but the location is difficult to nail down, according to the NOAA, which provides a 30-minute forecast update.

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According to The Gothamist, Bart Fried, executive vice president of the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York City, said, “There are ways of bettering the chances of witnessing such a rare and spectacular event. It is rare for aurora [borealis] to be visible in New York City, [but] in this case, it may be possible.”

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So, how to see the Northern Lights in our area, if possible?

Here’s the answer, according to NOAA:

northern lights NYC

“First, look North,” Fried suggested. “If it’s visible, the phenomenon will be seen towards the Northern horizon. Right now, there is a new moon, which makes conditions for seeing the aurora borealis more favorable.”

The best spots, according to Fried, are in an area with fewer lights (so, optimally, not NYC), and the weather needs to be pretty clear.

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“A good, clear night with low humidity offers the best conditions.,” and he noted to The Gothamist that looking between 10PM and midnight is ideal, with state parks being a go-to type of ambiance for optimal viewing.

It’s a good idea to download a mobile app, like Northern Light Aurora Forecast, to get a better idea of the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights in your area. It can help spell out when the show might take place — if at all. 

It’s worth noting that it’s only possible to see the Northern Lights when the sky is clear, and they’re not competing with ambient city lights — so yes, there’s a possibility, but chances are still low due to pollution.

april fools joke nyc northern lights

So despite this being announced on March 31st (which was our first tip-off that it *wasn’t* an April Fool’s joke), it’s become a common Twitter joke that it is an April Fool’s joke because of an untimely NY Bucket List article— and we’re here to tell you, it is, in fact, real. Not only did The Gothamist post about it, but so did the New York Post, Travel and Leisure, NYTimes, and USA Today but the chances of truly seeing it? We’ll leave that up to you + Mother Nature.

Still don’t believe us? Here’s an article from Accuweather from this week — noting that the Aurora would be arriving Wednesday, and possible sightings continue through the week/weekend.

Make sure to tag us in photos if you catch a glimpse @thehobokengirl on Instagram and TikTok!

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