Aurora Viewing in Southcentral Alaska

Though Fairbanks is often assumed to be the only northern lights (aurora borealis) viewing location in Alaska, there are some distinct advantages to chasing the lights in and around Anchorage and Southcentral Alaska. This Anchorage northern lights forecast page is designed to provide you information to aid in your search for a northern lights experience during a visit in the Anchorage area. Join us on our Anchorage Aurora Quest for a guided experience, showing you the best viewing locations and providing instruction on how to photograph this amazing phenomena.

Aurora and Weather Forecasts

3-Day Aurora Forecast

The aurora forecast is updated for May 7. Keep an eye out for our daily weather forecast update below and tour status as noted on the Anchorage Aurora Quest page. The Kp estimate is for the maximum level forecasted for the time between 12:00 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. Alaska time. 

FRI MAY 7 – Planetary K-Index [predicted]: Kp  1

Our Anchorage Northern Lights Forecast concludes on May 7. We will resume the forecast when our season returns on August 7.

Additional Information Affecting Aurora Viewing

Moon: The moon will set at 5:14 p.m. as a 12.41% waning crescent and be down all night. The moon will not interfere with aurora viewing.

Twilight: Civil twilight ends at 11:24 p.m. and starts at 4:26 a.m. (May 8).  There is no nautical or astronomical twilight at this time in Southcentral Alaska. At this time of the season, there needs to be at least a Kp4 aurora with enhanced solar winds or geomagnetic field in order for the aurora to be visible to the naked eye.

Solar Winds: Solar wind parameters are likely to remain nominal over 07-08 May. A weak enhancement from interaction with a negative polarity CH HSS is possible on 09 May.

Geomagnetic Field: The geomagnetic field is expected to be mostly quiet, with isolated unsettled periods possible on 07-09 May.

Planetary K-Index provides an estimate as to how wide the auroral oval may extend. It does not indicate whether the aurora borealis will appear. The most important factors for aurora viewing are the solar winds and geomagnetic field – so note the information above on those. The Planetary K-Index is measured on a scale of 0-9. Anchorage is within the Kp3 zone (aurora visible overhead), but auroras are often seen here on the horizon as low as Kp1 (except for the early and late season, where a higher Kp is needed.) A fairly accurate Kp index can be determined up to 3-days in advance. For the Kp index indicated in the Anchorage northern lights forecast, that is the maximum Kp predicted during the prime aurora viewing time in the Anchorage area (generally between 9:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.). We do not provide the Kp level for a forecast period outside of nominal viewing times (i.e., local daytime).

Last Night’s Aurora

  • The Planetary K Index reached Kp0-1 during optimal viewing hours.
  • The maximum hemispheric power achieved last night was 12.8 at 3:29 a.m.
  • Solar wind parameters, as measured by the DSCOVR spacecraft, reflected nominal conditions.  No significant periods of southward Bz were observed. Solar wind speeds varied between 285-335 km/s. Phi angle was oriented in the positive sector. The highest wind speed for Alaska viewing time was 313 at 1:22 a.m.
  • The geomagnetic field was quiet. Total magnetic field strength was between 4-7 nT. The best Bz component for Alaska was -2 Bz south at 3:40 a.m.

Current Aurora Ovation

Aurora Ovation

Hemispheric Power is a measure of auroral activity that helps determine how bright and active auroras might be. It measures the rate of deposition of charged particles (mainly electrons and protons) into the atmosphere, where they collide with upper atmosphere particles and eventually stop. This process transfers their kinetic energy to the upper atmosphere. The higher the number, the more charged particles are depositing in the upper atmosphere. It’s measured on a scale of 5-150 GW [Gigawatts]. A power level of 20 or more is usually adequate to produce auroras visible to the naked eye. Hemispheric Power fluctuates and is a short range forecast that can be determined only up to around 30-90 minutes in advance with relative accuracy.

Tonight's Weather Forecasts

The forecast is updated for the night of May 7

Anchorage

Partly cloudy, with a low around 37. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Estimated cloud cover is 30% (12:00 a.m.) to 39% (4:00 a.m.).

Girdwood

A slight chance of rain showers before 7pm, then a slight chance of snow after 4am. Partly cloudy, with a low around 36. East wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Estimated cloud cover is 82% (12:00 a.m.) to 98% (4:00 a.m.).

Knik River Area

Partly cloudy, with a low around 36. Southeast wind 5 to 15 mph. Estimated cloud cover is 24% (12:00 a.m.) to 47% (4:00 a.m.).

Palmer (includes Hatcher Pass)

Partly cloudy, with a low around 38. East wind 5 to 15 mph. Estimated cloud cover is 16% (12:00 a.m.) to 37% (4:00 a.m.).

Sutton

Isolated showers before 7pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 36. West wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Estimated cloud cover is 13% (12:00 a.m.) to 34% (4:00 a.m.).

Chickaloon

Scattered showers before 7pm, then a slight chance of rain between 7pm and 10pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 33. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm in the evening. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Estimated cloud cover is 20% (12:00 a.m.) to 37% (4:00 a.m.).

Glacier View-Eureka

Isolated showers before 7pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 30. West wind 5 to 10 mph. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Estimated cloud cover at Lion Head is 17% (12:00 a.m.) to 39% (4:00 a.m.).

Wasilla

Partly cloudy, with a low around 35. Calm wind becoming east around 5 mph. Estimated cloud cover is 12% (12:00 a.m.) to 36% (4:0 0 a.m.).

Willow

Isolated showers before 8pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 32. South wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 10%. Estimated cloud cover is 16% (12:00 a.m.) to 29% (4:00 a.m.).

Talkeetna

Scattered showers, mainly before 7pm. Partly cloudy, with a low around 34. Southwest wind around 5 mph becoming calm. Chance of precipitation is 30%. Estimated cloud cover is 30% (12:00 a.m.) to 42% (4:00 a.m.).
Latest Satellite Infrared Image of Alaska Cloud Cover

Anchorage Aurora Season 2019-2020 Statistics

Aurora season statistics