Most of us enjoy seeing the beautiful and festive lights during the Holiday Season. They are cheerful and contribute to the joy of the season. They use up a great deal of electrical energy, but we love them and refuse to give them up.
An aurora is a natural light display in the sky. Nature's light show. The word comes from the Latin word meaning sunrise, also the name of the Roman goddess of dawn. The aurora borealis (northern lights) were named after the goddess Aurora and the Greek name given to the north wind (Boreas) by Galileo in 1619. I wonder if Galileo actually traveled to the north to see them, but didn't go into it. Later, I found a reference to them being named by a French Astronomer in the 1500s.
After reading several incredibly technical descriptions of what causes them, I settled on the simplest from Wikipedia which says auroras are "...caused by the collision of solar wind and magnetospheric charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere." They appear as curtains, sheets of light, or as a diffuse glow.
I think I will name my next heroine after the southern lights: Aurora Australis. The aurora australis are seen near the south pole in the southern hemisphere. The word australis is the Greek word for south.
They are strongest in an oval around the south magnetic pole and not often seen in populated areas, although I found photos taken in Tasmania and Australia. Increased solar activity sometimes increases visibility from more distant locations.
1) oxygen emissions = Green or brownish-red
2) nitrogen emissions = blue or red.
Photo: Aurora Australis taken September 11, 2005 by NASA's IMAGE satellite
Colors and the forms themselves can change within seconds or glow without change for hours.
1st Row: Mawson Station Antarctica Scott Allerton Photography Amundson-Scott Station South Pole
Photo: Lydia Jean Dobromilsky Photo: Hunter Davis
2nd Row: Ararat, Victoria-ABC Sophie Fazackerly on instagram
Facebook: Bec Potter
ADD TO YOUR BUCKET LIST
Seeing either the aurora borealis or the aurora australis has always been on my bucket list. However, I went to Antarctica at the wrong time of year, and missed out. I guess I went to New Zealand and Australia at the wrong time of year also. Darn.
Maybe I'll be lucky and visit the Northern Lights on one of my trips. If you want to see the display, you need to plan your trip accordingly.