One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World
The ethereal Aurora Borealis, commonly referred to as the Northern Lights, are a phenomenon primarily witnessed above the magnetic pole in the northern hemisphere (the southern equivalent is known as the Aurora Australis). When gaseous particles in the atmosphere collide with charged particles from the sun, the result is a dazzling display of blues, greens, violets, reds and yellows. Anyone privileged to have seen the night sky light up in these dancing electric hues describes it as magical or otherworldly. There’s a whole tourist industry designed around catching a glimpse of this celestial wonder, and people flock to Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Alaska and Northern Canada hoping to gaze upon the astounding natural show. There are no guarantees, however, that the skies will cooperate during your visit, so consider yourself lucky if you are blessed with a viewing. Here’s a short video of the Aurora Borealis that will no doubt inspire you to plan a trip north in the hopes of seeing them for yourself one day.
Here are some interesting facts about the Aurora Borealis
- Different ions make different colors. For example, oxygen produces a pale yellowish-green, whereas nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora.
- The best time to see the Northern Lights is March to April, September to October, or anytime there is a solar storm. They are unpredictable, and there are no guarantees you’ll see them if you visit the north at that time.
- Displays take different forms, such as rippling curtains, pulsating globs and steady glows.
- Auroras have been seen since ancient times, even being referenced on a Babylonian clay tablet dating back to 567 BC.
- Vikings thought they were the shining weapons of immortal warriors.
- Laplanders thought these “fox fires” were created by the swooshing tail of an Arctic fox.
- Inuit believed they were the souls of animals.
- It’s best to view them in areas with little urban light pollution.
- The Aurora Borealis can occur at any time of day, but the dark night sky is when we can see them with the naked eye.
- Although they are best seen in the northern latitudes, they are occasionally seen even around the equator as far south as Mexico.
- Some people claim to hear cracking noises with the Aurora, but documenting this phenomenon is difficult.
- Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories is a major center for Northern Lights tourism.
Have you had the pleasure of seeing the Northern Lights?
Describe your encounter in the comments below.