The Northern Lights Natures electric light show

The Northern Lights, also called the Aurora Borealis is an atmospheric phenomenon triggered by interactions between the solar wind and the Earth’s magnetosphere, an upper layer of our atmosphere which is continually changing in electromagnetic intensity, depending on conditions in space.
Occasionally the auroras are visible farther from the poles than usual. In times of high solar activity, the southern limit for seeing auroras can go as far south as Oklahoma and Atlanta
When the sun is active, it emits a massless plasma known as the solar wind. This plasma moves through space at several hundred miles per second.
When the solar wind reaches the Earth, it triggers a process of exciting gasses within the magnetosphere that results in the emission of light. The main colors are green and red caused by oxygen, with the fainter blue and purple triggered by nitrogen. The colors show up in narrow streaming ribbons of light, often streaming across the northern sky. The brilliant dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles in the solar wind that enter the earth's atmosphere.
Occationally, the lights appear directly overhead.
The lights are seen over the magnetic poles in the northern and southern hemispheres. They are often called 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.
Auroras are relatively dim, and the redder light is often at the limit of what human retinas can pick up. Cameras, though, are often more sensitive, and with a long-exposure setting and a clear dark sky you can pick up some spectacular shots.
The northern lights look like fire, but they wouldn't feel like one. Even though the temperature of the upper atmosphere can reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit, the heat is based on the average speed of the molecules. After all, that's what temperature is. But feeling heat is another matter – the density of the air is so low at 60 miles (96 kilometers) up that a thermometer would register temperatures far below zero where aurora displays occur.
Created By
Dennis O'Hara
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