Natural phenomenon or act of God? The Northern Lights are so beautiful and awe-inspiring that your ancestors would have been arguing about it centuries ago. Take a look below for 17 fun and amazing facts about the Northern Lights.
1. The Northern Lights are sometimes called the polar lights, or the aurora borealis.
2. They’re caused by a combination of electron excitations and magnetic fields.
3. As the electrons collide with one another in the magnetosphere they release energy responsible for the distinct colors.
4. Different types of atoms will result in different types of colors.
5. Oxygen is responsible for the green, yellow and red light.
6. Whereas collisions with nitrogen result in the blue light we all know and love.
7. The best countries to view the Northern Lights from are close to or in the Arctic – Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Canada, Greenland, Scotland, Norway, and Alaska.
8. Analysis of the colors can tell you about the types of molecules hitting our atmosphere from outer space.
9. They’re actually there 24 hours a day.
10. You just have to be at the right angle to see them.
11. It can’t be daylight because the colors are swamped by the sunlight.
12. Auroras have been seen as far south as Mexico!
13. They can be seen from space and imagined by astronauts.
14. The Babylonians recorded seeing them in 567 BC.
15. Galileo also notes having seen them in 1621.
16. Auroras are more prominent and colorful during sunspot activity on the Sun.
17. There are also Southern Lights, the Auroras Australis, that you have to go to Antarctica to get a good view of.