Facts and Info about
Aurora Borealis

Information and Facts about Aurora Borealis - The Northern Lights


Facts and Information about Aurora Borealis
Increase your knowledge of Facts about Aurora Borealis with some brief, but essential information & fast facts about this fascinating subject. Important facts, data and info containing details of the description, name origins and cause of Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Details of the colors, cause and definition of Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights.  A Detailed Fact Sheet covering a whole host of topics including  facts about Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights!

Aurora Borealis

The Definition of Aurora Borealis
The name 'Aurora Borealis' is Latin and aptly describes the phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis! A basic definition of Aurora Borealis is luminous arches or streams of light which appear in the in Northern regions of the earth. The Latin words 'Aurora Borealis' are roughly translated as ' Northern Lights' - hence the alternative name! Aurora pertains to the lights ( the red dawn ) and Borealis pertains to the North. The term  Aurora Borealis was named by the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei (1564-1642). It is interesting to note that 'Aurora' was the name given to the Roman goddess of dawn.

The Legends and Myths surrounding Aurora Borealis
Long ago the appearance of the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights caused a range of emotions in the people who witnessed then - alarm, fear, wonder, dread and excitement to name but a few! People did not understand what caused these amazing spectacles of lights in the sky. The phenomena of the Northern Lights were explained by different stories - the legend and myth of bygone days:

  • The lights were God or Goddesses appearing to  mortals

  • The lights were spirits or souls dancing in the sky

  • The red colour was associated with legend or myths relating to blood - murder, death, armies, wars and suicide

The Cause of Aurora Borealis
The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is caused when material thrown off the surface of the sun collides with the atmosphere of the Earth. The emission of light from atoms is excited by electrons accelerated along the planet's magnetic field lines

The Sun and the Aurora Borealis - Additional Information about the Cause of the Aurora Borealis
The sun emits high energy ion particles. A cloud consisting of ion particles is called a plasma - also known as the solar wind. The ion plasma cloud, the solar wind, interacts with the edge of the earth's magnetic field and some of the particles are trapped by it. These particles are drawn magnetically down into the ionosphere, above the earth's surface. The particles collide with the gases in the ionosphere and produce the colors and the phenomenon called the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights. 

Definition of Terms!
Various terms are used to explain the Aurora Borealis. A fast reminder of the definitions are helpful and a definition of each associated term follows:

  • Ionosphere - A region of the earth's atmosphere where ionization caused by incoming solar radiation affects the transmission of radio waves. It extends from a height of 43 miles (70 kilometers) to 250 miles (400 kilometers) above the surface

  • Ionization - to convert wholly or partly into ions
  • Ion - An atom or a group of atoms that has acquired a net electric charge
  • Solar Wind - A stream of high-speed, ionized particles ejected primarily from the sun's corona
  • Plasma - An electrically neutral, highly ionized gas composed of ions, electrons, and neutral particles
  • Radiation - Energy radiated or transmitted as rays, waves, in the form of particles
  • Atmosphere - The gaseous mass a celestial body, especially the one surrounding the earth, and retained by the gravitational field

The Colors of Aurora Borealis
The array of colours in the Aurora Borealis consist of red, blue, violet, and green. Red is the dominant color.

Aurora Borealis Forecast
The appearance of the Aurora Borealis can be forecast by following events on the sun in relation to the speed of the gaseous matter being thrown off its surface. Various types of forecasts and predictions regarding the appearance of the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights, are published on several websites on the Internet. The best months to view the phenomena are between October and March. The NASA Space Weather Bureau www.spaceweather.com provides a forecast of viewing the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights

Location to view Aurora Borealis
Locations in the Northern hemisphere including Scandinavia, Canada, Northern America, Northern Europe and Siberia. Auroras occur around the magnetic poles in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Fast Facts & Info about Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights

  • Aurora Borealis - luminous arches or streams of light

  • The Aurora Borealis appears in the Northern hemisphere

  • 'Aurora' was the name given to the Roman goddess of dawn!
  • The Aurora Borealis are caused by the emission of light from atoms excited by electrons accelerated along the planet's magnetic field lines
  • Aurora Borealis can effect Earth's communications

Interesting information about the Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights
The Aurora Borealis

  • The solar wind can cause interference with radio, television and satellite communications

  • The size of Solar Flares are events classified as follows:

    • C-class events - Small solar flares are described as c-class events and have no effect on communications

    • M-class events - Medium sized solar flares are described as m-class events and can disrupt the Earth's radio communications

    • X-class events - Large, or extreme, sized solar flares are described as x-class events and can disrupt the Earth's radio communications

  • The Aurora Borealis does not effect Airplanes as they fly at altitudes well below the Aurora Borealis
  • The Aurora Borealis is not effected by changes in the temperature of the Earth

Planets and Science Index

Aurora Borealis

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Interesting Facts and Information about Aurora Borealis - the Northern Lights