Aurora Borealis

A.K.A. Northern Lights

Basics Information on Aurora Borealis

When highly charged electrons interact with elements in the earth's atmosphere, a brilliant light show happens. The colors you see depends on the altitude and which atom is struck. For example, when it strikes oxygen you will see green when it is up to 150 miles in altitude and red when it is above 150 miles in altitude. When it strikes nitrogen above 60 miles in altitude you see the colors of purple or violet, and under 60 miles it is blue.


The best time to view the Aurora Borealis is in Spring or fall, late at night or early in the morning. Between the months of Deecmber and March, Alaskan nights are longest and the sky is the darkest. Usually when the sky is clear and the air is chilly, you can see the best light show.


In addition to the Aurora Borealis light show above the Northern Hemisphere, there is the Aurora Australis. It can be seen above the magnetic pole of the Southern Hemisphere.


By tracking the solar wind data and using magnometers people can forecast how the lights will be up to an hour ahead of time.