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The Science Behind: Northern Lights

After listening to yet another eye-opening podcast about how our lives are too short and the many ways that we can make the most out of it, I decided to make a bucket list. For those who aren't aware of what a bucket list is, it's a list of goals or experiences you hope to accomplish during your lifetime. In my list, I wrote down 50 things I wanted to do before I departed this life. One of the most spellbinding ones on the list was to stand beneath the breath-taking Aurora Borealis or what some people call The Northern Lights......

So what are the Northern Lights and why do they occur?

These lights are formed when charged particles are radiated from the sun during a solar flare which leads to the penetration of the protective magnetic field around our earth which collides with the infinite atoms and molecules in the atmosphere. These collisions then result in uncountable small bursts of light, known as photons, which is what makes up the Aurora Borealis. The outcome of the collisions with oxygen is the green and red auroras, whereas with nitrogen it's the pink, blue and purple colors, giving a vivid and brilliant exhibit of lights in the sky. This very reaction encompasses near the polar regions of the earth and arises at an altitude of 40-400 miles(65-650 km) in a zone called the "Auroral Oval."

These Northern Lights have also been the cause of awe and superstitions for a very long time now. Some Inuit(a group of culturally indigenous people living in the Arctic regions of Greenland, Canada, and Alaska) believe that their ancestral spirits could be seen dancing in those alluring lights. According to Norse mythology, the aurora was said to be a fire bridge to the sky built by gods and other extraterrestrial beings.

Researchers have discovered that this auroral activity doesn't take place at random days or hours. These activities are cyclic and occur about every 11 years. The best time to witness the Aurora Borealis is somewhere between midnight and 2 am that too in places like Iceland, Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia, some Scandinavian countries, and obviously, the polar regions. But down in the more southerly latitudes of the United States, you will get to see a more strong display of the northern lights.

I have always wanted to witness this beauty myself. Maybe someday, I actually might. But it's definitely not today!:)

May the curiosity consume you.



Reference is taken from



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