What are the Northern Lights, and where to see the event in the sky?

What are the Northern Lights, and where to see the event in the sky?

The Aurora Borealis is a very impressive phenomenon, providing a realistic display of colored lights in the sky. Seen from the surface, the auroras already amaze any viewer, and when viewed from space, they are even more spectacular. But, what is Aurora Borealis? How does aurora borealis develop? Where on our planet does Aurora borealis occur? That’s what you saw in this article!

What is Aurora Borealis

Auroras can be different colors such as red, green, purple and others (Image: Reproduction / Matte Houghton / Unsplash)

Auroras are beautiful natural phenomena that usually occur as glowing curtains in the sky, but they are also found in the form of curves or spirals that always follow the lines of the Earth’s magnetic field. Northern lights are found in different parts of the Northern Hemisphere, for example in Canada, for example, in the Scandinavian countries. But auroras can also occur in the southern hemisphere – even with geographical differences, the processes that make them up are essentially the same. In this case, they are called auroras australis.

One of the most notable features of northern lights is their beautiful colors. For a long time, there was a lot of speculation about what was behind these colors, but today, we know that the different gases on Earth are responsible for the color variations of the auroras along with the height. In general, auroras come from the interaction of charged particles from the sun with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.

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If these particles come in contact with oxygen at high altitudes, they will produce a red light. The typical green color comes from particles colliding with oxygen atoms at low altitudes, while red and blue lights appear when in contact with nitrogen atoms. Finally, particles facing hydrogen and helium atoms can form blue and purple auroras, which are difficult for the human eye to see.

How Northern Lights Are Formed

When particles from the sun meet molecules in the center of the magnetic field, they stir them up, causing emission and light (Image: Reproduction / DESY).

Because they depend on solar particles, auroras begin to form in the sun. These particles are continuously called a flux from the surface of the star Solar wind, Which passes through the solar system – and beyond. Since our planet is in the middle of this flow, particles from the sun collide with the Earth’s magnetic field.

This magnetic field is formed by lines exiting the South Pole, passing through the center of the Earth and reaching the North Pole, bending outwards from the poles. In this way, the lines form Magnetosphere, A kind of “bubble” that protects us from charged particles coming from space, which is capable of easily destroying the Earth’s atmosphere if not for the protective action of our magnetic field. But even though most of the particles in the solar wind are blocked by the magnetosphere, there is still some “escape” in it.

When this happens, the particles travel to parts of the ionosphere that have accumulated around the Earth’s magnetic poles. Once there, the particles collide with atoms such as oxygen and nitrogen in the Earth’s atmosphere, and these collisions emit energy in the form of colored lights at the polar regions, called auroras. Most of them occur 90 to 1,000 km above the Earth’s surface, and because they depend on solar wind, It intensifies when our star is very active.

By the way, The Auroras are not unique to Earth. Since they only need the atmosphere and the magnetic field, the planets that exhibit these two characteristics may also have auroras of their own. The evidence for this is that astronomers have already observed their occurrence in the neighboring countries of our solar system. Like Jupiter And Saturn, they have already shown Aurora in their polar regions.

What is Aurora Astralis?

Although the phenomenon is particularly popularly used, the name “Aurora borealis” actually refers only to those that occur in the Northern Hemisphere. On the other hand, the lights that appear in the sky of the Southern Hemisphere are called “Southern Auroras”. Like northern lights, auroras astralis is caused by interactions between electrically charged solar particles and atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere. With this, they release lights in the form of colorful and bright curtains like their “sisters” in the north.

Astral auroras occur most intensely in an oval region centered on the south magnetic pole. It is difficult to predict exactly when they will appear in the sky from different parts of the southern hemisphere, and is most common in the fall and winter – but sometimes they are also seen from March to September. Although the Northern Lights and the Northern Lights have the same causes, they do not always have to occur simultaneously – in fact, they can both shine in the sky of two hemispheres at the same magnetic time, but that is not the rule of thumb. .

Lines of Terrain magnetic field Curve symmetrically; That is, Aurora borealis and Astralis were expected to appear in similar locations in the northern and southern hemispheres. Nevertheless, a synchronous situation between the two is rare. One possible explanation for this is that these differences are caused by the sun, whose magnetic field distorts our planet and affects its uniformity, but this issue is subject to research.

Where is Aurora Borealis?

Sporial auroras are most intense from 9pm to 3am (Image: Reproduction / Twitter / @ whereisweatherb)

Northern Lights are very impressive phenomena that motivate travelers from all over the world to visit the polar regions. Of course, to see them shine in the sky, it is necessary to add certain conditions, such as a night away from clear sky and light pollution – and, if possible, a night without a full moon. The best time to see them in the sky varies depending on the desired location, but a good reference window is the interval between the months of August and April.

The best places to see the northern lights in the sky are often Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Sweden and Finland. Norway is a very popular place for those who want to see the auroras because it has a very special location because the country is in the center of the “Don Belt”, where the oval area where the lights occur.

Astral auroras, on the other hand, are less common than northern lights. In these cases, it is best to look for them, mainly in New Zealand and Tasmania in the south of Australia. These are the areas closest to the magnetic South Pole, which are the most accessible – another option would be Antarctica, but let’s face it, the “tourism” there is more complicated because the weather on this frozen continent is not so pleasant. There are very few opportunities for travelers and planes and ships to travel to the area.

Source: Smithsonian Mac, Scientific American, Forbes, National Geography (1, 2), Universe Today

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