Getting a glimpse of the Northern Lights, or “Aurora Borealis,” is usually at the top of the list for people visiting Alaska. People often think they have to travel far north to see them, but tourists visiting Petersburg, Alaska, can catch a glimpse of this spectacular light show too. These photos were taken right here in the heart of Petersburg by resident photographer Carey Carmichael Case, and perfectly capture the magnitude of the Northern Lights in this little fishing town.

While most people have heard of the Aurora Borealis, the origin of this unusual display of lights is less commonly understood. The “lights” we see are actually collisions between gaseous particles traveling from the sun into the earth’s atmosphere. This type of activity is only visible above the magnetic poles, and is called either “Aurora Borealis” (northern hemisphere) and “Aurora Australis” (southern hemisphere).

Each light show is different, and the colors depend on the type of gas particles colliding. The pale yellow-green that is most common is from lower-altitude oxygen molecules, and blues and purples come from nitrogen particles. Some people have seen the rare all-red aurora, which comes from high-altitude oxygen. The lights can appear in scattered patches, clouds, streamers, arcs, ripples, or rays that shoot across the sky. Each light show will be different from the last, and the only way to fully understand this breathtaking natural phenomenon is to experience it.

“Alaska’s Little Norway” is an ideal place to experience the Northern Lights, as well as an array of other unforgettable new experiences. If you’re ready to plan a trip or relocate to our island to see all of the wonderful things this little fishing town has to offer, we would love to assist you with your journey!  

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