Everything You Need To Know About The Magnifique Aurora Lights
If you have ever been fortunate to gorge into the marvel of dancing lights lapping across the sky, then you should consider yourself lucky. But the rest of us who haven’t been blessed to see these lights will also unanimously agree that the aurora is nature’s most spectacular gift. Of course the science behind it is the surcharge of excessive energy – that is when the solar wind accelerates into the earth’s magnetic field and collides with the gases that surrounds the earth, the excess energy results in the display of these captivating lights.
The aurora lights are the only thing worth braving on a chilly night, hence every year thousands of travellers flock to high altitude regions such as Norway, Iceland, Finland and Canada to see their grandeur.
But did you know that Aurora Borealis isn’t the only light display to see in the cold regions. We also have the Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights that are visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand.
The magic of the aurora is more than what meets the eye. For centuries it has captivated so many of us that it is essential to go deep to explore the legends, history and science behind our favourite light show across the sky.
1. Auroras are spread across the sky in many shades. So when the particles collide with oxygen they form green and yellow, also typically visible in lower altitudes, but when in contact with nitrogen it produces colours like red, violet and blue, seen in high altitude regions.
2. The best place to experience polar lights on Earth is Alaska and the best time to see them is during the magnetic midnight. In Alaska, Aurora Borealis occurs all year round, in fact it even appears during the day, but they are only visible to us when they sky is clear and dark.
3. No two auroras are the same, whether its borealis or australis, the formations and the colours always look different. So what you see the first night will not be the sight you experience on your next night.
4. Auroras occur in several other planets. Astronomers have spotted these lights on other planets in our solar system like Uranus, Neptune and Jupiter.
5. For centuries the aurora has been connected to spirits. The Yupik people from Alaska believe that the spirits in heaven are lighting torches to speak to the humans on Earth, these lights are the aurora. The story of the Yupik people is gorgeously displayed in the game Never Alone, one of the most endearing games I’ve played with my family.
6. Aurora sightings cannot be predicted. This adds to the mystique and eagerness to spot them. So if you intend to watch the marvellous display of northern or southern lights you need patience.
7. The density of the air is so low in the sky at 60 miles that a thermometer would catalogue temperatures below zero degrees where aurora lights occur.
8. The auroras can only be visible in ultraviolet lights on Saturn, but they can be observed through space. Most astronomers in space are approximately at the same height as the auroras, so they see them from above.
9. The northern and southern lights make sounds which is often referred to as electrophonic hearing. Depending on the condition and how intense the aurora is, you could hear something that resembles the sound of claps, a radio static or the sound of wind swooshing. However the sounds aren’t common, one person may hear the sounds distinctly, while another person watching the aurora, even at the same location, may not, which makes the sounds from the aurora inconsistent, but there have been records of people hearing them - something worth experiencing next time you are aurora spotting.
Watch the aurora on timelapse
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