What are the Northern Lights – the Aurora Borealis?
These fascinating green lights of the aurora dancing in the night skies are collisions of electrically charged particles from the sun entering the earth’s upper atmosphere at very high speed. They are seen above the magnetic pole in what is known as the aurora zone.
The most common colour is a yellow-green hue produced from oxygen molecules located somewhere around 100km above the earth. Nitrogen produces the pink, blue, violet hues and the rare all red auroras are produced by high altitude oxygen at heights of up to 320km above the earth.
Electrons and protons from the sun are blown towards the earth on the ‘solar wind’s’. The earth’s magnetic field is weaker at either pole and therefore some particles enter the earth’s atmosphere and collide with gas particles. These collisions emit light that we know as the dancing lights of the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis.