Facts About The Northern Lights

The northern lights have mystified earths inhabitants for centuries the way the beautiful lights seem to dance across the dark night sky in the northern hemisphere. There are various facts about the northern lights that will help you to understand the cause, the myths associated with the northern lights, where to see the lights, and how to forecast when the lights will appear.

Definition of the Northern Lights

The northern lights also known as Aurora Borealis are the brilliant streams of light seen in the northern hemisphere of the earth. The origin of the name given to the event by Gassendi is Aurora Borealis, which was derived from Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn and Borealis meaning north.

Cause of the Northern Lights

The cause of the northern lights is solar particles that collide with gases found in our atmosphere, which are oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. When the solar particles from the sun collide with oxygen the color seen is red, green with hydrogen, and blue with nitrogen. The various areas of the color are the location of the gases in the atmosphere. Even though the colors look very close to earth, in actuality the occurrence is miles away in our upper atmosphere.

The myths of the Northern Lights

Throughout the ages, there have been many different myths associated with the northern lights. Examples of the myths include:

  • The lights were spirits dancing in the sky
  • The lights were gods
  • The lights were omens of war or famine
  • The lights were spirits of the dead trying to communicate

Where to see the Northern Lights

The best locations to view the northern lights is in the northern hemisphere, however, not every location can see the lights. The closer you are to the magnetic poles the greater the chance of seeing the lights. The best locations to view the northern lights are Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, and northern Russia.
Forecasting the Northern Lights

Forecasting when the northern lights will appear is not an easy thing to do; however, NASA Space Weather Bureau has created a forecast so all interested parties can learn more about predicting the appearance. In order to forecast the appearance of the northern lights one must follow events on the sun in relationship to the speed of the matter that is being tossed from the surface of the sun. Other factors that aid in forecasting the northern lights include the darkness of the sky, the spring or autumn equinox, and the time of day. It is best to visit the region to see the northern lights from October to March.

If you plan to take a trip by either cruise or tour, you should pay attention to the way to forecast the event. No one can promise you will see the northern lights as it is a natural occurrence, but scientists have determined the best time to see the lights are during autumn, winter, and spring.

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