Monday, March 29, 2010

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

Aurora Borealis: Nature Lights Up the Skies

All it takes is for the earth to have an atmosphere and the sun to eject ions at speeds up to 1200 km/second then BAM! You’ve got some unbelievable mother nature action. Imagine what people must have thought, thousands of years ago, when they saw these streams and swirls of light and color in the evening sky. Watching this spectacular celestial phenomena today, for that matter, is beyond spectacular.

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Aurora happens in both the southern and northern hemispheres, particularly in the polar zone. It is called Aurora Borealis (also known as Northern Lights) in the Artic region and Aurora Australis in the Antartic region. Streaming plasma clouds, composed of fast moving charged particles, form a solar wind. It is the tangential interaction of the solar wind with the earth’s magnetic field that traps some of these charged particles. These trapped particles then flow along the magnetic field lines of the earth into the upper most regions of our planet’s atmosphere. That’s when the lights become manifest and their dance begins.

Schematic of Earth's magnetosphere


Aurora australis captured from space by NASA's IMAGE satellite.

Aurora australis as seen from a Space Shuttle

Aurora Borealis seen from the International Space Station (ISS)

The Northern Lights shine above Bear Lake, Alaska, US

Panoramic photograph from Edison, New Jersey, US

Red and green Aurora in Fairbanks, Alaska, US

Aurora Australis appearing in Swifts Creek, Australia

Green Aurora Over Lake Superior, Canada

Aurora Borealis as seen over Canada at 11,000m (36,000 feet)

Aurora sightings in Oklahoma City, US

Northern Lights over a house in Iceland

Aurora seen at night in Scotland, UK

Aurora over Arena, Wisconsin, US

View of the Aurora and Comet Hale-Bopp over Boston, US

Purple Aurora in Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Another one from Flambeau Lake, Wisconsin, US

Aurora Borealis with Orion, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Missing information, Unknown location

Northern Lights - Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada.

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