In the northern hemisphere they’re known as Aurora Borealis (dawn of the north), in the southern hemisphere they’re known as the Aurora Australis (dawn of the south), but to all, these magnificent phenomena are known as a natural light show which illuminates the entire night skyline. Some aboriginal tribes believed the lights to be the souls of their deceased ancestors, Alaskan natives believed they were spirits of the animals in which they hunted–whales, seals, deer, etc., early Native Americans of Wisconsin believed they were representations of hunter and fishermen gods, while other tribes in New Zealand believed it was a magnification of torches or fires. This intriguing blaze in the sky has baffled humans for centuries, as it appears to be a message from God. So, what are the northern and southern lights?
This natural light show is caused from the combustion of tiny gaseous particles in the earth’s atmosphere colliding with gaseous particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. These billions of microscopic collisions can illuminate an entire night sky with bright, vibrant colors of green, violet, orange, blue, or yellow. The sun’s surface is constantly exploding with millions of degree-Celsius gas particles that travel thousands of light years away from the sun on solar wind towards Earth. Yet, Earth’s natural magnetic field is able to protect the atmosphere and surface of the planet from these particles. But the magnetic field is weaker at both poles of the Earth resulting in gaseous particles colliding and exploding 50-400 miles above Earth’s surface, resulting in the beautiful lights.
The best place to see the lights are in unpolluted air in the upper northern hemisphere and lower southern hemisphere of the globe. Places like the Yukon peninsula in Canada, the Northwest territories of Alaska, the northern tip of Norway, the southern coasts of Iceland and Greenland, Antarctica, the southern Indian Ocean, and the northern coastal waters of Siberia. These naturally luminescent glows are a phenomenon everyone (including myself) must witness in their lifetime, as it is an inspiring and utterly humbling natural beauty that will leave you breathless to nature’s spectacle.