An Aurorae is a colorful display of lights in the sky, caused by the collision of energetic particles from the Sun – the solar wind – with gas particles in Earth’s atmosphere. Aurorae are most often seen in the Arctic and Antarctic regions in winter.
The Aurorae in the Northern Hemisphere is known as the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis, while in the Southern Hemisphere it’s called the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis.
Because Aurorae occur when the particles are funneled down toward Earth’s geomagnetic poles, they are often seen at high latitudes. The two geomagnetic poles gradually move over time (this is a great topic for another post) but are currently located northwest of Greenland and eastern Antarctica.
The light show occurs at around 300 km (190 miles) or more in the atmosphere. The solar wind is accelerated into regions above the geomagnetic poles, where they collide with gas particles in the atmosphere. As a result, the gas particles have a raised energy state. As the particles revert to their normal state, they emit energy as light.
The color of the light depends on which atmospheric gas is taking part of the phenomena, the amount of energy and the altitude of the particles.The rays have different colors (red, green , blue and violet), so that an amazing event takes place.
The Aurora Borealis is most often seen north of 60°N, usually between September and April. The Aurora Australis is best seen between march and October and from south of 60°S.
Aurorae have been observed on most other planets, including Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. A similar phenomenon has also been seen on Venus, but the planet has no detectable magnetic field, so the cause of this phenomenon is not known.
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