The northern lights are a phenomenon we have all read about in our geographic books and science classes. They are famous for their wonderful display of lights, and countless tourists visit different places to view them. They have a number of fables and superstitions attached to them since the beginning of the time. However, no one denies the fact that such a beautiful display of nature’s art is a sight to behold.
Let’s check out some crucial terms that are integral to the Northern Lights!
The scientific name of the northern lights is Aurora Borealis. This phenomenon also occurs in the south and is named as Aurora Australis. The northern lights are the result of a scientific phenomenon. The entire process is a result of the interaction of the earth’s atmosphere and the sun’s radiations.
The sun behaves like a giant magnet and has two poles. When the solar activity cycle is at its peak every eleven years, the poles interchange. On the sun, a solar wind which comprises of charged particles carries the magnetic field from the surface and throughout the solar system.
Solar flares are one of the reasons that cause the northern lights. The sun continuously emits radiation, but in certain instances, the sun radiates a considerable amount of radiations in isolated blasts which are called solar flares. It occurs when the magnetic energy has built up in the atmosphere of the sun and is suddenly released.
The radiation which is released during the event spans throughout the electromagnetic spectrum. They are harmful to the humans, but the atmosphere and the magnetic field of the earth protect its inhabitants. The frequency of a massive solar flare is every once in eleven years which gives rise to the most intense northern lights.
Solar storms form when the sun emits huge amounts of radiation and energy in the form of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. This phenomenon sends a wave of the magnetic field and electrical charges towards the earth at a speed of about three million miles per hour. A huge solar storm is capable of damaging satellites and radio systems on the earth. The magnetic field of the earth protects us from such disasters.
Apart from the massive solar storms, some storms range on the surface of the sun, sending a considerable amount of electrical charges and magnetic field towards the earth. The northern lights occur when the particles from the sun collide with the gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere. The different lights are the result of the collision between the different gases like oxygen and nitrogen.
Time and Place to See Northern Lights
The sun has a period of eleven years between the peaks in the solar flare. During these peaks, the probability of these lights occurring increases and they are more frequent. You can view it from a few places including locations in the northern parts of Canada.
Places such as Alaska, Yukon, Nunavut and several other northwestern parts are the best spots to watch the lights. One can view them from places in the southern parts of Iceland, Greenland, Norway and from the coastal parts in the north of Siberia too.An optimum time period to see the lights in Iceland is from February to March.
We know that, as we move towards either of the poles (the North Pole or South Poles), the nights keep getting longer and, therefore, you can see the Northern lights at any moment. However, the prime time to see the aurora lights is from 9:00 PM to 2:00 AM.
Earlier, the northern lights were considered mystical and were deemed to be a bad omen. However, after extensive research and scientific observations through satellites and weather balloons, the scientific nature of this phenomenon was established. This phenomenon is surprisingly quite common, but they are too dim to be witnessed by the naked eye. The solar storm every eleven years offers the most beautiful northern lights. Many tourists wait for the solar storms to view this fantastic display.