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Interesting Facts about Aurora Borealis

March 24, 2012 | Environment, Interesting Facts

Northern Lights in Britain (Photo: MASONS)

Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights appear when an enormous amount of electrons passes through the earth, particularly along its magnetic field, and collides with air particles.

The electrons or the so-called charged particles come from solar wind or from the magnetosphere. It is important to note that the sun’s local climate is the primary factor that determines the presence of the Aurora.

The Northern Lights appear in a place called the Auroral Zone that is typically positioned in the latitudinal extent of 3” up to 6” and in local time zones. Hence, it is located 10” up to 20” away from the known magnetic pole.

Commonly, the northern lights appear like a soft flowing, green colored curtain that is made of light. If the sun rises in an unusual direction, the Aurora can be seen in a faint red glow. The Northern Lights can sometimes stay for hours, unchanging or appear in just a matter of seconds.

Near the magnetic pole, they can be seen overhead. In other places, they can be viewed as a green curtain that veils the northern horizon. Sometimes, they are barely visible to the eyes and sometimes they are so bright adequately letting you read your book at night.

What you need to know

  • The name Aurora Borealis is derived from Aurora, the Dawn goddess for the Romans and from Boreas, the given Greek name for the Wind from the North. It was named through Pierre Gassendi in 1621.
  • Aurora Borealis appears anytime only that it is most visible during winter, particularly in dark nights, when the sky is clear of particles. In the Scandinavian countries, you have better chances of seeing the phenomenon Northern Lights at 11:00 PM to 2:00 AM during September through April.
  • Practically, Aurora Borealis can be seen in the countries that are in the Auroral Zone. Tourists who follow the Northern Lights go to Norway, particularly in North Cape and the counties of Finnmark and Tromso. The Northern Lights appear in Tromso almost every other night. In Sweden, Aurora Borealis only appear two to three times a month.
  • You can also visit the northern part of Scotland during winter when the clouds take a break from covering the sky. In Canada, you can go to Ontario, particularly in the Lake Superior area. You may also head to the Yukon Territory and Whitehorse, a town that offers a prime viewing seat. Other countries where you can see the Northern Lights are Finland, Greenland, and Russia.

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