It can feel nearly impossible to you access a sense of wonder in today’s all-the-information-anytime-you-want-it environment, but the answer, I find, is often in the natural world. Whether it’s feeling the strange cool breeze that arises during the totality of an eclipse, watching a thousand-strong starling murmuration swirl in the sky, or tasting fresh mango plucked from the tree in front of you, our sensory experience of the earth’s pleasures—even if we know exactly how and why they happen—can reacquaint us with wonder.

So it is with auroras. You can understand their mechanism—I’ll cover that below—but it’s one of those things that has to be experienced bodily, live-in-person to be understood. Which explains why people arrange trips and vacations around the chance to do just that. Here’s what to know if you’ve been thinking about traveling to see aurora.

“Hiking. What you’re describing is hiking.” That’s the basic reaction I saw on Twitter to the…

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