Northern Lights

WHAT ARE NORTHERN LIGHTS?

The bright dancing lights of the aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south...

Auroral displays appear in many colours although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.

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Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights
Northern Lights

Red: At the highest altitudes, excited atomic oxygen emits at 630 nm (red); low concentration of atoms and lower sensitivity of eyes at this wavelength make this color visible only under more intense solar activity. Scarlet, crimson, and carmine are the most often-seen hues of red for the auroras.

Green: At lower altitudes, the more frequent collisions suppress the 630-nm (red) mode: rather the 557.7 nm emission (green) dominates. Fairly high concentration of atomic oxygen and higher eye sensitivity in green make green auroras the most common.

Blue: At yet lower altitudes, atomic oxygen is uncommon, and molecular nitrogen and ionized molecular nitrogen take over in producing visible light emission, radiating at a large number of wavelengths in both red and blue parts of the spectrum, with 428 nm (blue) being dominant.

Ultraviolet: Ultraviolet radiation from auroras (within the optical window but not visible to virtually all humans) has been observed with the requisite equipment. Ultraviolet auroras have also been seen on Mars, Jupiter and Saturn.

Yellow and pink are a mix of red and green or blue. Yellow-green is moderately common. As red, green, and blue are the primary colours of additive synthesis of colours, in theory, practically any colour might be possible, but the ones mentioned in this article comprise a virtually exhaustive list.