Aurora Borealis

Oooohhhh pretty lights

What is the cause of the Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis happens when charged up electrons from solar wind interact with gaseous particles in the Earths atmosphere. Different colors happen when different particles interact. red, for example, is produced by high altitude oxygen.

Where is the best place to see the Aurora Borealis

While there is no definite best place to see the Aurora, but places like Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Sweden are in "the zone" so you are almost guaranteed to see it, and sometime between Autumn and Spring would be the ideal time for the Aurora Borealis to appear.

Whats the difference between the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights

The Northern and Southern lights are the same phenomenon, but they differ in intensity and obviously in location, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) occur in the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Lights (Aurora Australias) occur in the Southern Hemisphere.

Why are there different colors

Different colors appear when different gaseous particles are exited by the electrons and also when different amounts of energy are exchanged. Nitrogen, for example, usually makes blue, and oxygen makes a yellowish-greenish color.

Myths and Legends

The Point Barrow Eskimos believed the lights where an evil thing, and they carried knives to protect them from it.

The Fox Indians, located in Wisconsin, thought the lights were a foreshadowing of war, and that they lights were the souls of dead warriors who were trying to rise from the dead for revenge.

The East Greenland Eskimos thought the lights were the spirits of young children that died at birth.

Can we predict the Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis is hard to predict with absolute precision, but it does have a cycle so we can guess when it will happen, but there are no guarantees. When the sun revolves around its axis we can look for sunspots and use that data to predict when the Aurora will happen.