If you live in the Arctic or Antarctica — generally, regions with high latitudes and are close to the magnetic poles, the chances are that you would have seen an aurora.
If you haven’t, don’t worry, we have got you covered. We will let you in on all you need to know.
What are Auroras?
The Auroras are known by many names, including the northern lights (aurora borealis), southern lights (aurora australis), and polar lights. But what are they?
Auroras are natural light displays formed when charged molecules interact with the earth’s magnetosphere and air molecules in the upper atmosphere. The interaction between these elements results in the breathtaking display — and the display is intricate and colorful. You should see one!
Where and When Do They Occur?
It helps to have it at the back of your mind that auroras are a natural phenomenon, and contrary to common myths, they don’t always happen.
Having mentioned that, the big questions are where and when do they occur?
Like we mentioned earlier, auroras are mostly seen in regions closer to the magnet poles, and we highlighted the Arctic and Antarctica. Right?
Auroras can take the form of bands, arches, patches, and curtains. The uniform arcs are the most stable form of display, and they tend to stay longer.
Because auroras are created from the continuous collision of electrically charged particles (both positive and negative charges) and atmospheric gases, the Borealis is technically on display all day.
However, they can only be seen and appreciated at night and when the skies are dark, and there is no clouds or storms to struct your view — on moonless night winter nights.
Where Is the Best Place to See the Aurora?
Hmmm, that’s a tricky question to answer. Why? It is because it can be seen in both the northern and southern hemispheres. However, the north regions offer a better view because the southern hemisphere is covered by water.
Speaking about the places where you see the northern lights clearly and enjoy a panoramic view, you could consider Finland, Alaska, Estonia, Russia, and northern Canada.
However, Abisko, Sweden, offers the most thrilling view of the auroras — and that because of the clear dark skies in the area.
What Are the Colors of The Aurora Lights?
Recall that auroras form when gases collide with electric charges. When these charges collide, they give off light at different wavelengths depending on the gases involved — and this is what’s responsible for the multi-color display.
Take, for instance; oxygen gives off red and green light. Nitrogen gives off blue light.
Tip for Seeing the Aurora Display
To enable you to catch an uninterrupted view, it would be best to go far away from tall buildings, street lights, and trees. This allows you to capture a mind-blowing view of the charming display.
Aurora Fun Fact for Kids
It may interest you to know that auroras also happen in other planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune — and they occur at a larger scale compared to what we experience on earth.
If you are wondering how auroras happen in these other planets, the answer is simple. They all have both atmospheres and magnetic fields — which are the primary elements needed to spark the display.