Do You Know All of These Countries That Can See the Northern Lights?

WORLD

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By: Jonnathan Chadwick

6 Min Quiz

The northernmost U.S. state is one of the world's best places to view the Aurora Borealis. What's the state?

Alaska is one of the world's best places to see the northern lights, and they're visible between September and April. Peak viewing season in Alaska is in March, and the farther north you travel, the better the view.

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The biggest island in the world is also the northernmost place on Earth. What is it?

Greenland edges out Canada, Alaska, Russia and Norway as the northernmost point in the world. Getting to the northernmost point of Greenland is a lot easier said than done. There are no roads or trains between many towns in Greenland.

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What's the northernmost U.S. state of the lower 48?

Washington state and Maine appear to be the country's northernmost states, but a sliver of Minnesota actually creeps into Canada's territory, making it the northernmost U.S. state of the lower 48. The state is one of the best places in the lower 48 to the Aurora Borealis.

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Do you know the southernmost Nordic country?

Scandinavia is one the top places you want to visit when hunting the northern lights. You can see the spectacle in northern Sweden starting in September. The lights are usually visible all day in the northern part of the country, but the most vibrant displays happen after 10 p.m.

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This land of chocolate and cheese is about as far south in Europe as you can go and regularly expect to see the northern lights. What's the country?

Every decade or so, the world sees an unusually high level of geomagnetic energy. The Aurora Borealis can be seen as far south as Texas during these years, but it all depends on clarity on the night's sky. Switzerland is about as far south in Europe you can expect to see the lights on a normal year.

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This state is known for its potatoes, but a few lucky ones know it for views of the northern lights. Can you name it?

Idaho produces more potatoes than any other U.S. state, and its northern border is one of the country's most northernmost. If you're hunting the northern lights in the lower 48 states, Idaho is one of your best bets.

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Alaska doesn't border any U.S. states, but it borders this country that is one of the best places to see the northern lights. What is it?

No country is farther north on Earth than Canada. Greenland edges it out by a bit, but Greenland isn't a country. There are dozens of specific locations all over the country where clear viewing of the northern lights is common.

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Do you know the Nordic island with a misleading name?

Legend has it Iceland got its name because the person who discovered it discovered it on a day it was snowing. Iceland isn't covered in ice. It's about 1/20th the size of Greenland, but it's home to more than five times the amount of people.

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You can't see the northern lights from the "Land Down Under," but you can see the southern lights. What's the country?

With all the climate change and unbelievable things happening on Earth, it's not impossible for the northern lights to glow all the way to the southern hemisphere, but if you do see lights glowing over Australia, they're probably the southern lights, aka Aurora Australis.

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Do you know the only state named after a U.S. president?

Washington sits in the heart of the Pacific Northwest and is one of America's northernmost states. Whether the lower 48 can see the northern lights depends on geomagnetic activity, but Washington is one of the places you want to be if you're trying to see them.

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Ancient legend in this country says children conceived under the northern lights will grow up to be strong, handsome and wise. Can you name the country that is home to Tokyo?

This Japanese legend has been around for centuries and believers all over the world swear by it. Some Japanese couples in Canada even flock as far north as possible to experience a night under the northern lights.

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Do you know what Nordic country is home to the northernmost point in Europe?

Norse mythology says the northern lights are reflections from Valkyrie shields. The Valkyrie are female warriors in Norse mythology who have the power to choose who shall live and who shall die in battle. The country has dozens of viewing spots.

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The lights shine brightest in the darkest skies. Can you name the second most northern country in Europe?

Scandinavia consists of Sweden, Norway and Finland and they are the three most northern countries in Europe. The sun never rises during winter in northern Finland. Southern Finland only sees six hours of daylight during the same period.

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The largest country in the world offers a countless number of places to view the northern lights. What's the largest country in the world?

Canada and Greenland are the only two places on Earth that extend farther north than Russia. The northern lights can be seen in Russia from the end of summer to the beginning of spring, but the middle of winter is the best time to catch a glimpse.

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Northerners of what country know the northern lights as the "Mirrie Dancers"?

The northernmost part of Scotland is the island archipelago of Shetland. "Mirrie Dancers" is the local slang for the northern lights that can be seen from the area. The lights can be seen anywhere in Scotland depending on the sky's clarity.

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What is the most populous U.S. state?

California extends into the northern half of the country and is the country's most populous state. It's rare to see the northern lights in the state, but every once in a while they can be seen as far south as the Bay Area.

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The Emerald Isle is know for its green fields and stone castles, but you can also find a tour of the northern lights in the country. Where is it?

Ireland is known as the Emerald Isle and the northern lights can be seen all over the country depending on strength and clarity. The best places to see the lights are the northernmost parts of the country.

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Greenland is the largest island in the world, but it's not its own country. What country owns Greenland?

Americans unaware Greenland was part of Denmark were educated when the president publicly stated he wanted to buy the country and Danish leaders publicly stated the island wasn't for sale. Denmark is just under Scandinavia and is one of Europe's better places to see the northern lights.

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What country is commonly defined by the flightless bird known as a kiwi?

It's not known whether the northern lights ever glowed bright enough to be seen over New Zealand, but the country is one of the best places for viewing the southern lights. The lights are best seen during winter, which is between March and September in New Zealand.

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If you can't get to Scandinavia, you can go hunting for the northern lights in the Baltic states. What's the northernmost Baltic state?

Europe's Baltic area may span several countries, but Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are commonly recognized as the three Baltic states. Estonia is the farthest north and offers the best views of the northern lights.

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"Big Sky Country" is one of the best places in the U.S. to see the northern lights. Do you know the state?

Montana is known as Big Sky Country and it's one of the best states in the lower 48 to view the northern lights. To see the northern lights, you want the darkest, clearest night possible, and Montana's sparsely populated land is a perfect place to find a dark and clear sky.

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Amsterdam is known for its bicycles, canals and coffee shops. Do you know the country?

The Aurora Borealis can be seen in The Netherlands for a few days a year and your best bet on viewing them is traveling as far north in the country as possible. A big city like Amsterdam isn't a great place to try and see the lights.

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This country is known around the world for its luxury cars and premium brew, but you may see the northern lights every few years. What is it?

Germany is one of the most populous European countries and is home to some of the continent's largest cities, so in terms of pollution and sky clarity, it's not the best place for viewing the northern lights. Strong flares glow over the country every few years.

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What remote, volcanic islands in northern Europe offer some of the best views of the northern lights?

The Faroe Islands are part of Denmark and they sit just southeast of Iceland. They're not Europe's best place to view the lights, but you can definitely see them on a clear night. The lights can be seen between November and February.

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Do you know the country that borders Ireland but is actually a part of the United Kingdom?

Northern Ireland is separate from Ireland politically. It's bordered by Ireland, but despite its name, Ireland actually extends farther north than Northern Ireland. You want to travel as far north as possible to see the lights.

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This country's mythology says the northern lights are good and evil dragons fighting each other. What's the country?

Parts of China extend north into Russia and the northern lights can be seen in the country. Seeing the lights in China is rather rare, but when they're seen, locals believe the lights represent good and evil dragons fighting in the sky.

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Buda and Pest are split in half by the Danube River. Do you know the country they sit in?

Don't expect to go hunting for the northern lights in Hungary every year, but the lights can be seen whenever there is strong geomagnetic energy. The Aurora Borealis glows strongly enough to glow over Hungary about once a decade.

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Buenos Aires is the largest city in what country known for its steak?

It's very unlikely you'll ever see the Aurora Borealis in Argentina, but the country is one of the best places on Earth to see the Aurora Australis. The southern lights are just as majestic as the northern lights but can only be seen in the southern hemisphere.

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You'll find this country known for its sweets sitting just under the Baltic states. What is it?

Belarus extends farther north than Lithuania and borders Latvia. You can see the northern lights in the northern part of the country during strong solar flares, but it's a rare occurrence when people do get to see the lights.

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You might know this country for its waffles, chocolate and beer, but you can also see the northern lights if you're lucky. What is it?

Belgium is mostly known for its gourmet food and drink, but the Aurora Borealis can be seen during strong geomagnetic storms in the northern part of the country. The country sits just underneath the Netherlands.

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Neither the northern lights nor the southern lights have ever reached the equator. What's the northernmost country where sightings of the southern lights have been recorded?

Reports of the southern lights being seen over Singapore were recorded in September during the solar storm of 1909 and reports of the lights over Samoa were recorded during the solar storm of 1921. Singapore is about eight degrees south of the equator and Samoa is 14 degrees south.

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What is the southernmost country where sightings of the northern lights have ever been recorded?

The planet experienced its strongest recorded solar storm in history in 1859, and the Aurora Borealis could be seen as far south as Cuba. Sightings were even recorded in Honolulu, Hawaii, which is about 20 degrees north of the equator.

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This large country in middle Europe is known for its potatoes and pierogis. What's the country?

Poland is just about as far north as Lithuania and Germany and it offers lucky views of the northern lights. Strong solar storms flare up every decade or so, and those are the best years to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis in the northern parts of Poland.

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The world's largest desert is also one of the best places to see the southern lights. Do you know it?

If you happen to book a trip to Antarctica, you might as well try to see the southern lights. The best time to catch a glimpse in Antarctica would be between March and September, which is the winter season down there.

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What's the southernmost U.S. state to ever experience the northern lights?

Hawaii is the southernmost U.S. state. About 100 years before it officially joined the union, the planet experienced the strongest recorded geomagnetic storm in history. The Aurora Borealis could be seen as far south as Hawaii.

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Image: WanRu Chen / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

Back in the sixth century BC, Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar II carved a sequence of characters into a stone tablet to note an unusual occurrence in the sky. The tablet was lost for centuries, and when it was discovered, it took decades to decipher. Once deciphered, an entry on the tablet noted that on the "night of the 29th, red glow flared up in west." Researchers today consider it the first recorded sighting of the northern lights. It was written in 567 BC and it happened in the Middle East.

The northern lights are known for glowing over the northernmost parts of the northern hemisphere, but history has shown the auroras can be seen almost anywhere. The colorful flares are a result of solar and magnetic activity, and the stronger the force, the farther away they can be seen. The Solar Storm of 1859 was the greatest on record and the northern lights could be seen as far south as Cuba. On top of that, there are references of sightings all over the planet dating all the way back to the Bible. And on top of that, the planet also has the southern lights, which are the same thing except in the southern hemisphere.

Wherever you are, you have a chance of seeing supernatural auroras light up the night sky, but some places offer better viewing than others. Can you name these countries where you can see the northern lights?


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