The northern lights arise when charged particles emitted during a solar flare penetrate the earth's magnetic shield and collide with atoms and molecules in our atmosphere. Simple.

Nature can’t be trusted. There are no guarantees when it comes to whale watching, and the wise get backup tents for their outdoor weddings. This no-promises approach applies to the northern lights, too: the famed aurora borealis, those dancing streaks of colour that illuminate the night sky on every postcard north of Kamloops, can be elusive.

But isn’t this unpredictability all part of the thrill?

On a trip to Yukon last winter, I boarded a midnight flight to try to catch a glimpse from the sky. The inky air was dusted with stars, and ethereal streaks of white light were sketched over the wings of the plane—but there were no electric pinks or greens to be seen.

There was still something magical, though, about gliding thousands of miles above the snowy landscape in a dark cabin, quietly sipping a gin and tonic and soaking in the endless night.


I wasn’t seeing the lights I came searching for, but in that moment, I accepted it. The man beside me, however, wasn’t so complacent: he sat with his camera lens trained patiently on the view, waiting for his aperture to capture what was beyond the naked eye’s ability.

When the shutter finally snapped shut, it locked in what I couldn’t see: on his LED screen, glowing bright in the pitch-black plane cabin, there were the colours we’d been chasing, captured in their full glory. Turns out that they had been out there in the sky all along, hiding in plain sight. Well played, nature. Well played.

Aurora 360 Experience, February 7 to 11;$1,045 for flight, $2,939 for four-night experience