Let there be lights
Kalin Pallett wants to truly high-light some dazzling lights for inquisitive sorts.
Pallett is with the Whitehorse-based Aurora/360 Experience, which this February plans to carry people in a charter B737 to a height of 11,000 metres, providing what it says will be a particularly spectacular airborne viewing of the Northern Lights.
A similar project was held last year, with Aurora/360 Experience reporting that passengers saw the Northern Lights nine minutes after takeoff and the sighting continued three straight hours.
The Yukon and the Northwest Territories have been working to attract winter tourists eager to see the colourful, shimmering Aurora Borealis displays, but Pallett says the upcoming tour of three to three and a half hours will take sightings to new heights.
The flights will be held Feb. 8 or 9, depending which day has the best Aurora forecast.
“Seeing the Northern Lights at altitude provides an unparalleled view into one of the world’s greatest celestial phenomenon,” Pallett says. “And by charting a course directly to where the Aurora Borealis are, the chances of experiencing them are far greater than a fixed location on the ground.
“February is a great month for Aurora viewing throughout the Yukon and one of the key advantages to the Aurora/360 flights is that we can travel to exactly where the Aurora are happening.”
Pallett says the Yukon’s location makes it a particularly attractive spot to view the Northern Lights. “Our proximity to the Aurora Oval allows us to reach prime Aurora viewing faster than anyone.”
Pallett adds that the Yukon’s smallish population – which, in turn, means there’s little light pollution – is another plus for the territory.
Although plans call for the flight to reach 11,000 metres, a different altitude may be chosen if timely data indicates there are better viewing options. The Northern Lights occur from 80 to 640 kms above the Earth’s surface, with Pallett stating that Aurora /360’s planned cruising altitude “provides us with the perfect combination of viewing and comfort on board.”
Aurora/360 is a five-day package that provides four nights accommodations and also promises “unique culinary components,” guest speakers, Yukon cultural events and optional day tours. That in turn led to the Aurora/360 Experience name, which Pallett says provides an “exclusive learning opportunity in all directions.”
The speakers include Pierre Paquette, The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada’s astronomy ambassador, and William Murtagh, assistant director for space weather, energy and environment division of the White House Office of Science and Technology.
Participants will also be offered celebratory gin from the Yukon Brewing Company and aurora photographer Neil Zeller will help passengers with their pictures.
Introductory pricing for the package is $2,939.
The flight alone is available for $1,045.
Pallet says those involved in the project plan to make it an annual event.
More information can be found at aurora-360.ca.