Aurora borealis or Northern lights made a spectacular appearance in the skies of Northern Montana and Minnesota last night, and could possibly make another appearance tonight. This video was taken over Ontario, Canada on Tuesday night, as the aurora borealis made their appearance there.
The phenomenon is caused by solar particles entering the earth's upper atmosphere. Variations in color depend on the type of gas particles colliding with each other. The particle collisions happen between 50 and 400 miles above the earth's surface. Bob King of universetoday.com explained it this way:
"The arrival of a powerful solar wind in excess of 375 miles per second (600 km/second) from a coronal mass ejection shocked the Earth’s magnetic sheath last night beginning around 9 p.m. CDT. The sun’s magnetic field, embedded in the wind, pointed sharply southward, allowing eager electrons and protons to worm their way past our magnetic defenses and excite the atoms in the upper atmosphere to glow. Voila! Northern lights."
According to aurora-borealis.us, auroras occur in both hemispheres, and the aurora in the northern hemisphere is called the aurora borealis, or northern lights. The aurora borealis gets its name from the mythical Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas. The aurora borealis can often be seen on the northern horizon; it frequently appears as a reddish glow, as if the sun were rising in the wrong direction. The aurora borealis is most often seen during the months of September, October, March, and April.
So, where can you get a piece of aurora action? While obviously the northern U.S. is sometimes lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder, Fairbanks, Alaska, is known as one of the best places in the world to see the aurora borealis. It usually appears in the sky as light green, light yellow, and pink wisps, curtains, pillars, pinwheels, and haloes of light that seem to wave and vibrate. Amazing!
Image via youtube