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What are the Northern Lights?

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Despite being surrounded by many myths and ancient beliefs, nowadays we know that the northern lights are a result of solar activity.

Storms on the surface of the sun will send electric particles into the atmosphere, and some of these particles will hit the earth’s magnetic fields as they are attracted to the poles.

 

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At about 100km above the earth, the particles hit the outer atmosphere, and the energy is released.

 

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Colours of the Aurora

This energy is shown as moving light in different colours. The most common is green, but sometimes the sky can be lit up in red, yellow, orange, pink, green and white waves of colour.

 

We know that the colours are a result of the particles hitting different gasses at different heights in the ionosphere. For example, Oxygen atoms give red or green light and nitrogen atoms give violet light.

 

Solar Activity and the Northern Lights

The amount of solar activity determines how much northern light we get. Normally, solar activity follows a cycle of about 11 years.

 

2007 and 2008 marked the lowest activity on the sun since 1913, but this summer so called ‘sunspots’ were spotted on the sun again, meaning the cycle is once again on the up. This means more northern lights!

A Nuclear Reaction

The Aurora Borealis may look peaceful waving across the skies, but the amount of energy released to produce the lights is quite staggering.

 

In a moderate northern lights display lasting a couple of hours, roughly the same energy as a small nuclear explosion is released!

The Sound of the Northern Lights

Many people claim that the northern lights have sound, although it hasnever been scientifically proven.

 

One myth is that the spirits of the dead are trying to talk to the living, because of claims of hearing crackling or whilstling sounds from the sky.

 

It should not be completely ruled out that there could be sounds coming with the northern lights. It is possible that the activity causes electricity to build up in the atmosphere causing the crackling sounds.

 

Struggling to find the perfect northern lights holiday? Just fill in the customised booking form from Nordic Visitor and they will help you with your booking!

 

 

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