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One beautiful manifestation of the interaction of the solar wind with our atmosphere is coloured light displays observed in the night sky. When this occurs, the shadow of the Earth can fall on the Moon or the shadow of the Moon can fall on the Earth.

Aurora, luminous phenomenon of Earth ’s upper atmosphere that occurs primarily in high latitudes of both hemispheres; auroras in the Northern Hemisphere are called aurora borealis, aurora polaris, or northern lights, and in the Southern Hemisphere aurora australis, or southern lights. A “solar wind” from the Sun interacts with the Earth’s magnetic field, injecting it with energy and setting up a cycle that catapults electrons into the Earth’s atmosphere at the poles, where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen and cause them to release light—the aurora. Find out more about the science of the 'northern lights' below. Brown

These 'northern' and 'southern lights' have fascinated, frightened and inspired humans for centuries. Want to be notified when our article is published? Flares are related to what are called coronal mass ejections, which are the ejection of material from the solar corona consisting largely of electrons and protons with small quantities of heavier elements such as helium, oxygen, and iron. Auroras usually occur in ring-shaped areas centered around the magnetic poles of Earth. The Aurora Borealis is often called the northern lights as it tends to be seen as a green or reddish glow in the northern sky. They are caused by dense ionized gas that is suspended by the Sun’s magnetic field but ‘rains’ back from the corona into the chromosphere. If you were to ask the next five people you meet, “What is the most important object in the sky?,” most people would say our Sun. See video below.

Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know. Interference with short-wave radio communication can also occur, and the interaction of the entrained magnetic field with electricity power transmission cables can cause problems and the possible shutdown of electricity grids –as happened in the Quebec province of Canada in March 1989. The aurora (the northern and southern lights) is an incredible light show caused by charged particles accelerated into our upper atmosphere.

Click the picture to the right to see a larger view of the Aurora!

These are called prominences. The streams of highly energetic particles have been observed to take as little as 15 min to reach the Earth (so travelling at about one-third the speed of light). These lights are called auroras.

Aurora Borealis!.

The material carries with it elements of the coronal magnetic field. Most light appears to be emitted by emissions from atomic oxygen, resulting in a greenish glow at a wavelength of 557.7 nm and a dark-red glow at 630.0 nm. It is most commonly seen around the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, though it is not known why this should be so. They are most often seen within a band centred on the north and south magnetic poles and are known as the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, respectively. Aurora Facts Due to perspective, the converging auroral rays appear as vertical rays of light reaching upwards to what is called a ‘corona’ overhead. The elements that play a major role in our chemistry (carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen) […], App Atlantis - The Best Solution For Your Digital World. Such phenomena are called eclipses. What evidence would you need to be convinced that the two were at one […], Introduction From time to time the Sun, Earth, and Moon all happen to lie along a straight line. On rare occasions – perhaps once per decade – auroras are visible as far south as Florida or Japan. The extent of a planet’s dynamic resurfacing due to plate tectonics provides indirect evidence about whether it still has a molten interior. The Auror… As the Earth’s field lines open out into space above the north and south magnetic poles, charged particles may more easily reach the upper atmosphere in the regions near the magnetic poles. Aurora Induction Demonstrators, Click the printer for a "Printer Friendly Version". 1569 La Rue Lane,  Our universe is suitable for life. (Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn, Boreas is the Greek name for the north wind, and Australis is the Latin word for the south.) If you’re near the South Pole, it is … Magnetic field measurements […], Introduction Tectonic Plate study is a Fantastic topic of modern Earth Science.

An auroral oval also exists around the southern magnetic pole. Known as the Borealis Australis in the Southern Hemisphere, auroras typically occur at latitudes of between 10 and 20 degrees from the geomagnetic poles, and can be observed at all local times if the sky is clear and sufficiently dark.

The color of the aurora depends on which gas is being excited by the electrons and on how much energy is being exchanged. Suggested Aurora Reading The total energy of between 1022 J and 1025 J, released over periods of minutes to hours, accelerates electrons, protons and heavier ions to relativistic speeds – that is, close to the speed of light. This ghostly glow can light up the night sky in a dance of colors. The aurora is triggered by the Sun and varies in strength depending on the Sun’s activity.

There they collide with atoms of gases in the atmosphere and lift electrons into higher energy levels. The electrons then cascade down to their ground states so emitting light. Their shape is determined by the direction of the Earth’s field in the region of the observer and observations have shown that electrons from the solar wind spiral down magnetic field lines towards the Earth. Email - neal.nbrown@gmail.com. Click the picture to the right to see a larger view of the Aurora! How widespread will it be? If you’re ever near the North or South Pole, you may be in for a very special treat. An aurora (plural: auroras or aurorae), sometimes referred to as polar lights (aurora polaris), northern lights (aurora borealis), or southern lights (aurora australis), is a natural light display in the Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high-latitude regions (around the Arctic and Antarctic). The oxygen and nitrogen molecules also emit ultraviolet light, which can only be detected by special cameras on satellites.

We suspect that the vast majority of life forms will have the same basic chemistry as our carbon-based life. When looking at the shape of the ocean between the continents of Africa and South America, one naturally wonders if the two continents were closer together in the past. The “northern lights” are caused by collisions between fast-moving particles (electrons) from space and the oxygen and nitrogen gas in our atmosphere. If you're a teacher of K-12 classes I also offer an Aurora Science Class, designed to help you develop curriculum for your students.

More info on Helio4cast here. This picture from space shows the simultaneous “crowns” of the auroral ovals.

One beautiful manifestation of the interaction of the solar wind with our atmosphere is coloured light displays observed in the night sky. They are perhaps the most dramatic astronomical events […], Life in The Universe & The Drake Equation The Drake Equation. The aurora (the northern and southern lights) is an incredible light show caused by charged particles accelerated into our upper atmosphere. The best places to see the aurora are in Alaska, Canada, and Scandinavia, during the late evening hours. When billions of these collisions occur and enough photons are released, the oxygen and nitrogen in the atmosphere emit enough light for the eye to detect them. Netflix has been going all in on horror films recently, as proven by Aurora, a foreign thriller written and directed by Yam Larana that is now streaming. Auroras are caused by the collision of charged particles with atoms high in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Sometimes these curtains change slowly but at other times they seem to be in continuous motion. This Aurora forecast is totally experimental and should only be used as a rough indicator of potential viewing of the Aurora. Enter your email address and name below to be the first to know.

When the molecules return to their normal state, they release photons, small bursts of energy in the form of light. (Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn, Boreas is the Greek name for the north wind, and Australis is the Latin word for the south.)

They are most often seen within a band centred on the north and south magnetic poles and are known as the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis, respectively. Scientists have carefully scrutinized the planets and satellites in an attempt to answer this question, and most of the answers so far […], Introduction The Earth’s magnetic field is Magnetosphere. Frequently there are beautiful light shows in the sky.

See … Often the auroral glow is in the form of ‘curtains’ that tend to be aligned in an east-west direction. To begin, pick an Aurora Section below - Aurora Facts; Suggested Aurora Reading Oxygen emits either a greenish-yellow light  (the most familiar color of the aurora) or a red light; nitrogen generally gives off a blue light. Main Page | Let's Build a Rocket | Get Lectured Mapping The Unknown | Book Store Linkage | My Resume | Email Neal, This information was compiled by the Geophysical Institute as a public service.© Copyrighted 1998 - 2006 by Neal B. The auroracan be seen near the poles of both the northern and southern hemisphere. Amongst the many other colours that are sometimes observed, excited atomic nitrogen gives a blue colour whilst molecular nitrogen produces a purple hue. Solar flares, originating in the Sun’s corona, are violent explosions whose energy is believed to be derived from the ‘breaking’ and then ‘reconnection’ of the Sun’s magnetic field lines and the resulting ‘release’ of magnetic energy. As they rain into the atmosphere, the electrons impart energy to oxygen and nitrogen molecules, making them excited.

More recently, photographers have gone to remarkable lengthsto try and capture the beauty of these atmospheric events.

These electrons originate in the magnetosphere, the region of space controlled by Earth’s magnetic field. There’s more info about Dr. Melanie Windridge, and the science of the aurora as well as travel and clothing tips here.

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