How do northern lights happen

What are the northern lights caused by?

Auroras occur when charged particles (electrons and protons) collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere. Those collisions produce tiny flashes that fill the sky with colourful light. As billions of flashes occur in sequence, the auroras appear to move or ” dance ” in the sky.

How do Northern Lights start?

Bottom line: When charged particles from the sun strike atoms in Earth’s atmosphere, they cause electrons in the atoms to move to a higher-energy state. When the electrons drop back to a lower energy state, they release a photon: light. This process creates the beautiful aurora, or northern lights.

Do the Northern Lights happen every night?

The Northern Lights are unpredictable.

They are visible from late August to early April anytime during dark hours, which in places like Abisko or Tromsø can be nearly 24 hours a day in winter.

Why northern lights are green?

The most common colour seen in the Northern Lights is green. When the solar wind hits millions of oxygen atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere at the same time, it excites the oxygen atoms for a time and then they decay back to their original state, when they emit the green hue we can see from the ground.

Where is the best spot to see the Northern Lights?

What are the best places to see the Northern Lights?
  1. Tromso, Norway. Based in the heart of the aurora zone in the Norwegian Arctic, the city is widely regarded as one of the world’s best places to see the Northern Lights. …
  2. Swedish Lapland. …
  3. Reykjavik, Iceland. …
  4. Yukon, Canada. …
  5. Rovaniemi, Finnish Lapland. …
  6. Ilulissat, Greenland.

How often do the Northern Lights happen?

“Active periods are typically about 30 minutes long, and occur every two hours, if the activity is high. The aurora is a sporadic phenomenon, occurring randomly for short periods or perhaps not at all.”

Do the Northern Lights make noise?

Reports of the aurora making a noise, however, are rare – and were historically dismissed by scientists. … But a Finnish study in 2016 claimed to have finally confirmed that the northern lights really do produce sound audible to the human ear.

Are the Northern Lights pink?

The bright colors of the northern lights are dictated by the chemical composition of Earth’s atmosphere.

Who discovered the Northern Lights?

The 17th century astronomer, physicist and philosopher, Pierre Gassendi, saw the Northern Lights on a trip in the North and named them the Aurora Borealis.

Why don’t you whistle at the northern lights?

They want to take somebody from the Earth to come with them. So they could come down and take you if you look at them or you draw attention. That’s why we say never whistle at them. You’re not supposed to draw attention because they will find you.

Can you touch the northern lights?

Secondly, the aurora are essentially photon emissions from nitrogen and oxygen molecules, so you can’t really touch it (as much as you can ‘touch’ a sunbeam). Even the gas that emits the photons is extremely tenuous.

Why are the northern lights bad?

The Northern Lights occur so high up in the atmosphere that they don’t pose any threat to people watching them from the ground. The aurora itself is not harmful to humans but the electrically charged particles produced could have some potentially negative effects to infrastructure and technology.

What happens if you wave at the Northern Lights?

Don’t whistle at the Northern Lights

The biggest faux pas you can commit while viewing the Northern Lights is to wave, sing or whistle at them. Alerted to your presence, the spirits of the lights will come down and take you away.

Are the Northern Lights hot?

The northern lights look like fire, but they wouldn’t feel like one. Even though the temperature of the upper atmosphere can reach thousands of degrees Fahrenheit, the heat is based on the average speed of the molecules.

Which planet has the biggest aurora?

Jupiter
Jupiter has the most powerful auroras in the solar system. And that’s not surprising, since it’s our solar system’s most massive planet. But Jupiter is the only one of the four giant planets with an aurora that has been found to emit X-rays.

What did the Vikings think the Northern Lights were?

The Vikings believed the Northern Lights illuminating the sky were reflections of the Valkyries’ armor as they led the warriors to Odin. … In others, the Aurora was believed to be the ‘Bifrost Bridge,’ a glowing, pulsing arch which led fallen warriors to their final resting place in Valhalla.

Are the Northern Lights Plasma?

The sun and other stars consist of plasma. Plasma is also found naturally in lightning and in the northern and southern lights. If you’ve never seen these shimmering colorful lights in the winter night sky, the Figure below shows what they can look like.

Is it bad luck to see the northern lights?

The appearance of the Northern Lights was a bad omen. Thought to be the souls of the deceased, the Sámi believed you shouldn’t talk about the Northern Lights. It was also dangerous to tease them by waving, whistling or singing under them, as this would alert the lights to your presence.

Was Bifrost the northern lights?

In old Norse mythology, the northern lights were said to be Bifrost, the bridge between Åsgard and Midgard. … It is important to be respectful of the Northern Lights in order to show respect to their forefathers. In Sami, the northern light is called “guovssahas”, which means the audible light.

What does aurora symbolize?

Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn. The lights, usually starting as a subtle brightening on the northern horizon (in the Northern Hemisphere), appeared to be an out-of-place and untimely arrival of morning.

What do the Inuit call the northern lights?

aurora aqsarniit
Legends abound in northern cultures to explain the northern lights. Some North American Inuit call the aurora aqsarniit (“football players”) and say the spirits of the deceased are playing football with the head of a walrus. Often legends warn children that the lights might come down and snatch them away.

What did the Vikings think of Christianity?

At first, the Viking Norse didn’t take to Christianity. They loved their own gods and were content with them. English and Frankish Christian priests and monks had begun missionary tours to the Viking lands from the 700s to 800s. However, the conversion of the Vikings took place over centuries.

What did Vikings call the North Star?

Polestar
North Star: Viking navigators relied on the North Star, also known as Polestar or Polaris, to chart the direction of their routes at night.

What’s the name of the Northern Lights?

aurora borealis
In the north the display is known as the aurora borealis; in the south it is called the aurora australis. These ‘northern’ and ‘southern lights’ have fascinated, frightened and inspired humans for centuries.