Interesting Facts About Northern Lights: An Amazing Natural Wonder Of The World!

The Northern Lights are a spectacular sight for many people, but still, most of them don’t know much about them or the role they play in history and science. For those who have been lucky enough to see Aurora Borealis in person have experienced the awe of a natural phenomenon.
The Northern Lights are also known by the name ‘Aurora Borealis’. Aurora was the Roman Goddess of the Dawn and Boreas is Greek for the north wind. The Northern Lights are not visible all the time but when they do appear, they are often sighted within the Arctic Circle, approximately more than 80 kilometers from the surface of the Earth.
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south.
Auroral displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
Below are some interesting facts you probably didn’t know about Northern Lights:
1. Auroras are relatively dim, and the redder light is often at the limit of what human retinas can pick up. Cameras, though, are often more sensitive, and with a long exposure setting and a clear dark sky you can pick up some spectacular shots.
2. Specific atoms create specific colors. The colors of the polar lights depend on whether electrons collide with oxygen or nitrogen, and how energetically. The change in energy between “excited” and original states has a specific value and the resulting photon has a specific color or wavelength.
Oxygen emits greenish-yellow or red light, while nitrogen generally gives off blue light; the blending of these produces purple, pink, and white. Oxygen and nitrogen also emit ultraviolet light. Which can be detected by special cameras on satellites but not by the human eye. Researchers can use the different colors to figure out such things as the energy level of the electrons bombarding our atmosphere and creating the aurora.
3. Astronauts on board the International Space Station are at the same altitude as the Northern Lights and see them from the side.
4. People travel for miles and pay a lot of money in hope of seeing the Northern Lights which are a huge tourist attraction. Some visitors have to wait weeks before being lucky enough to experience this phenomenon.
The best viewing of the northern lights occurs in high northern latitudes during the winter, in places like Fairbanks, Alaska; Dawson City, Yukon; Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada; Gillam, Manitoba, Canada; the southern tip of Greenland; Reykjavik, Iceland; Tromsø, Norway; and the northern coast of Siberia (bundle up!).
You need clear, dark skies, so take into account the weather, times of sunrise and sunset, and the moon phase. Sightings are most likely during the three or four hours around midnight. Look in the direction of the closest pole. The lights can reach heights of 620 miles, but usually are about 60 miles high.
5. There are certain times of the year when you are more likely to witness the Northern Lights. This is when the greatest solar winds occur, usually between early September and early March.
6. The Southern Lights offer the same visual display as the Northern Lights but since the South Pole is even more inhospitable and inaccessible than the North Pole. It is more difficult to view the Southern Aurora. Therefore, the Northern Lights are more popular and get almost all the attention.

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