Northern lights are as well known as Aurora Borealis and represent an interaction between the Earth’s magnetic field and particles emitted by the Sun, which has its own solar wind, those particles spiralling then around our planet’s magnetic field.
- HOW TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
The lights can be seen in the both hemispheres, being known as “ Aurora Borealis” in the north and “ Aurora Australis” in the south, both of them appearing in many colours although the most common are pale green and pink.
The best places in the world for seeing those miracles of nature are those closer to the Arctic Circle, including Canada, Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Although you can observe the southern lights in the southern hemisphere, the northern ones are the stars of the show, the ones that must be seen at least once in a lifetime.
In order to see them clearly, you need to look for them in a dark, clear night, anytime during night hours, fact that in some places can mean nearly 24 hours. Even though the best viewing months are from September to April, there is no official season for seeing them, the Northern Lights being present almost always, day and night, because of the Sun that it’s hitting atoms in Earth’s atmosphere and releasing photons, process that happens constantly.
NORTHERN LIGHTS BEHIND THE SCENES
The Northern Lights aren’t something harmful for those who are watching them from Earth, despite of what many people might think. They occur so high up in the atmosphere that they don’t pose any threat for the humans from the ground, although their electrically charged particles could have some negative effects on infrastructure and technology.
The auroral lights’ colours are determined by the spectra of gases from the Earth’s atmosphere and, of course, by the height at which most of the collisions take place.
Most of the times, auroral features are greenish – yellow, but sometimes the tall rays will turn red. Also, on rare occasions, sunlight will hit the top part of the auroral rays, making them become some shade of faint blue.
To be more specific, near the poles, plasma particles evade Earth’s magnetic field and when they interact with oxygen they produce the usual green glow.
The red colour appears in the sky when the same particles mix with high altitude oxygen and they are becoming blue or purple only when they excite nitrogen, reason why those are the least common ones.
- LEGENDS ABOUT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Since during history this natural phenomenon was something so weird for people, they invented some strange myths regarding the Northern Lights, stories that were passed by from one generation to another.
One of them says that, alerted to your presence, the spirits of the lights will come down and take you away. This story is about the North American Indians who often whistled at the Northern Lights in order to make them come closer so that they could whisper to them messages that would be taken to the dead.