The Science Behind Choosing Windows for Northern Lights Viewing

The Science Behind Choosing Windows for Northern Lights Viewing

When it comes to experiencing the mesmerizing beauty of the northern lights, having the right windows can make all the difference. The science behind choosing windows for optimal aurora viewing involves a combination of factors that impact visibility, comfort, and overall viewing experience.

Windows play a crucial role in framing and enhancing our view of the northern lights. From the type of glass used to the design of the window frame, each element contributes to the quality of the viewing experience. Let’s delve into the science behind choosing windows for northern lights viewing.

Glass Composition and Coatings

Glass Composition and Coatings

The type of glass used in windows can significantly affect how well we can see the northern lights. High-quality, low-iron glass is preferred for its clarity and lack of green tint, which can distort colors and diminish visibility. Additionally, certain coatings can be applied to the glass to enhance visibility and protect against glare.

One important consideration is the use of low-emissivity (low-E) coatings. These coatings help to control heat transfer and reduce energy loss while still allowing visible light to pass through. By minimizing glare and reflections, low-E coatings can provide a clearer and more vibrant view of the northern lights.

Glazing and Insulation

Double or triple glazing is another important factor to consider when choosing windows for aurora viewing. Multiple layers of glass with insulating gas fillings provide better thermal efficiency and sound insulation, creating a more comfortable and conducive environment for viewing the northern lights.

The spacing between the glass panes also plays a role in improving insulation and reducing condensation, which can obstruct visibility. Argon or krypton gas fillings between the panes further enhance thermal performance and help to maintain a consistent temperature inside the viewing space.

Window Frame Materials

The material used for window frames can impact both aesthetics and performance. While traditional materials like wood offer a classic look, they may require more maintenance and are prone to warping or rotting over time. Alternatively, materials like vinyl or fiberglass offer durability, low maintenance, and excellent thermal performance. We have prepared an article for you about 7 tips for installing Windows, more details here.

The design of the window frame is also important for maximizing visibility. Narrow frames and larger glass surfaces provide unobstructed views of the northern lights, allowing for an immersive viewing experience without distractions.

Orientation and Placement

The orientation and placement of windows within a building can significantly affect aurora visibility. South-facing windows may offer better views during the winter months when the aurora is more active, while north-facing windows may be preferable for year-round viewing.

Additionally, positioning windows away from sources of light pollution, such as streetlights or neighboring buildings, can help to minimize interference and enhance visibility of the northern lights.

Standards and Regulations

Choosing Windows for Northern Lights Viewing

In Canada, windows are subject to standards and regulations set forth by organizations such as the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) and the Canadian Standards Association (CSA). These standards cover various aspects of window design, construction, and performance, including energy efficiency, durability, and safety.

For more information on window standards and regulations in Canada, you can visit the NRC’s website at or refer to industry resources such as the CSA’s guidelines for fenestration products.


Choosing the right windows for northern lights viewing involves a careful consideration of various factors, from glass composition and coatings to glazing, frame materials, and orientation. By understanding the science behind window design and performance, aurora enthusiasts can create optimal viewing environments that enhance their experience of this natural wonder.

Whether you’re designing a new home or retrofitting existing windows, investing in high-quality, well-designed windows can make a world of difference in your ability to enjoy the beauty of the northern lights from the comfort of your own space.