Set up by Explore.com, the live cam is located at the Churchill Northern Studies Center in Manitoba, Canada and is situated directly underneath the aurora oval—one of the best places on earth to watch the aurora borealis. Although the northern lights occur year-round, late winter and early spring (when the arctic is dark for most of the day and the sky is clear) are the best seasons to see them. So now’s the perfect time to watch the live stream. Tune in during the darkest hours of the night, which are generally from 10pm–4am EST.
As for what you're actually watching, the website also explains that aurora borealis occurs when electrically charged particles emitted by the sun collide with the oxygen and nitrogen in the earth's upper atmosphere. When many of these collisions occur at once, the oxygen and nitrogen emit enough light for the eye to detect. The color of the aurora depends on whether it's oxygen or nitrogen colliding with the charged particles: Oxygen emits a greenish-yellow or sometimes a red light, while nitrogen typically gives off a blue light. The other colors visible in the aurora—purples, pinks, and whites—come from blends of oxygen and nitrogen.
If you want to plan a trip to see the lights in person next year check out our guide to Alaska.