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.
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. (yet I’ve still only seen green)
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
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.