Alaskans are fortunate: the northern lights enhance our skies and give us something to anticipate during the long nights of winter and shorter nights of spring.

The aurora forecast from the Geophysical Institute provides daily forecasts.

Capturing the aurora borealis with a camera may seem complex, but it's a fun family-friendly activity that also encourages everyone to get outside. Finding good locations, forecast watching and camera handling are important for capturing ideal northern lights photographs.

For beginners, moonless nights and clear skies are best. The moon can work to one's advantage, though, lighting up the foreground and making a pleasing photograph. That said, full moons tend to be bright enough to overcome the lights, so try and plan your shoot for a week with less moon light.

Partly cloudy skies can also provide great conditions for depth in your aurora photos. This takes some practice once you view some of your photos you will be hooked and want to add to the experience.

Traditionally, good times for aurora viewing and photographing is between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. But don't bank on it: during strong solar storms aurora can be seen at all hours once the sky darkens.

More tips and tricks are available in our How To Photograph Alaska's Aurora Borealis guide.