Thanks to intrepid explorers and modern video technology, you can watch the northern lights illuminate starry skies on YouTube whenever you want. But seeing it happen in real time definitely elicits a higher level of wonder.
Since organizing an Arctic journey isn’t feasible for everyone (or advisable to anyone during a pandemic), explore.org has partnered with Polar Bears International to bring us the next best thing: a northern lights livestream. The camera is set up at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre, located near the coast of the Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, Canada. The institution is right below the “aurora oval”—the ring formed by aurora borealis, which means “northern dawn”—so it’s a particularly prime viewing spot.
As The A.V. Club reports, you’ll probably just see a blank expanse of sky above evergreen trees if you’re watching during the day. Come nightfall, however, the northern lights will likely make an appearance. According to Mashable, that happens between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. EST; and the ideal months to catch a show are February and March, when clouds are less likely to obscure it. But aurora borealis doesn’t let up after that two-month window: Polar Bears International executive director Krista Wright told Mashable that the town of Churchill plays host to the lights more than 300 nights a year.
The northern lights webcam, installed back in 2012, is one of many nature-related webcams overseen by explore.org. If scintillating neon lights aren’t as fascinating to you as, say, a bald eagle lounging in its nest or sea lions roaring up a storm, you can check out those and other livestreams here.
[h/t The A.V. Club]