Aurora Borealis or the Northern lights are one of nature’s most beautiful phenomenon which leaves most watchers breathless. The beauty of ‘Northern Lights’ as it is more commonly known often makes the more inquisitive minds enquire as to how these lights are created? What is their source of origin? In this article we will answer all your questions about what causes Northern Lights, and the best time to see them.
What Causes Northern Lights:
Sun! Yes, you heard it right; The Big old Sun is the one who’s responsible for the occurrence of the vibrant and mesmerizingNorthern Lights.
- When there’s an eruption on the Sun, the charged particles also known as the solar flare enter the Earth’s magnetic field and collide with the atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere.
- These collisions are so superabundant that it results in the formation of numerous little particles of light, called photons, resulting in the formation of the delightful Aurora.
- Auroras can be seen in many different colours such as pale yellowish-green and pink be the most common, whereas shades like red, blue, green, yellow and violet are the rare ones.
- The collision of the charged particles with oxygen produces the pale yellowish-green colour and with nitrogen, the blue or purplish-red aurora is formed.
Where can you see them?
Northern Lights as they are known actually occur at both North and South Pole of the earth. In the northern hemisphere, this phenomenon is known as “Aurora Borealis” and “Aurora Australis” in the southern hemisphere. The area where the chances of seeing the northern lights are highest is known as the “Aurora oval”. Usually, the northern lights aren’t strongest at the northern magnetic poles, rather right under the aurora oval which depends upon the direction of the flow of solar wind.
The aurora oval covers most parts of Alaska, Canada, South Greenland, Iceland, Northern Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The west half of North Russia also witness the northern lights. People from the north-central parts of the United States and Scotland can see it as well.
The biggest problem is that the northern does not occur at the same place, rather changes its location from year to year by quite a few miles. But due to modern day science and new technologies, we now can easily know the location of the formation of the northern lights. But still, Northern America tops the list of the sightings of these wonderful pleasing lights.
When can you see them?
If you’re planning to witness this heavenly creation of naturethen planning is very crucial, since as we told before, the lights keep shifting their location every year. You need to take your time and plan well, in order to ensure you are at the right time in the right place.
- Northern lights are best spotted between early April and late August.
- From 6 pm in the evening to 4 am in the morning is the best window to see the Auroras.
- Apart from the timing, the other important factor is the weather. Never forget to check the weather forecast before going out to hunt for auroras, as these occur at a very high altitude above the Earth’s surface, and if the weather is cloudy you won’t be able to see anything except for the clouds.
- Please note that most of the northern lights are not so bright, and the vibrant ones quite rarely occur. So, in order to make your chances slightly higher, you need a darker location away from the city lights.
Last but not least
If you’re the one who can do anything to witness this wonder and can travel miles without caring about anything, then you can improve your chances of seeing it to a great extent, by keeping an eye on something called the “space weather”. It will tell you if a major solar storm is going to hit our planet, along with the location where the northern lights will occur. If you follow the space weather then you will have enough time to reach the exact spot and witness this heavenly phenomenon in its full glory.
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