northern lights


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aurora borealis

aurora borealis (bôrˌēălˈĭs) and aurora australis (ôstrāˈlĭs), luminous display of various forms and colors seen in the night sky. The aurora borealis of the Northern Hemisphere is often called the northern lights, and the aurora australis of the Southern Hemisphere is known as the southern lights. Each is visible over an area centering around the geomagnetic pole of its own hemisphere. The aurora borealis is said to occur with greatest frequency along a line extending through N Norway, across central Hudson Bay, through Point Barrow, Alaska, and through N Siberia. It is often visible in Canada and the N United States and is seen most frequently at the time of the equinoxes; in times of extreme activity, it may be seen in parts of the S United States. Among the most magnificent of natural phenomena, auroral displays appear in shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet and are usually brightest in their most northern latitudes. The aurora is seen in a variety of forms, e.g., as patches of light, in the form of streamers, arcs, banks, rays, or resembling hanging draperies. The aurora occurs between 35 mi and 600 mi (56 km–970 km) above the earth. It is caused by high-speed electrons and protons from the sun, which are trapped in the Van Allen radiation belts high above the earth and then channeled toward the polar regions by the earth's magnetic field. These electrically charged particles enter the atmosphere and collide with air molecules (chiefly oxygen and nitrogen), thus exciting them to luminosity; near the 600-mile level, the light may be given off by electrons and protons combining to form hydrogen atoms. The auroras coincide with periods of greatest sunspot activity and with magnetic storms (disturbances of the ionosphere which interfere with long-distance radio communication). Much was learned about the aurora during the 1957–58 International Geophysical Year, when it was studied intensively by means of balloons, radar, rockets, and satellites. Other planets in the solar system also have auroras.
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northern lights

[′nȯr·thərn ′līts]
(geophysics)
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

aurora borealis

The ghostly display of lights in the form of streamers, rays, arcs, bands, curtains, sheets or patches that seem to shimmer and flit across the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. These are most common in higher latitudes centering around magnetic poles. They are associated with magnetic storms on the sun, which appear as sunspots. Also called northern lights.
An Illustrated Dictionary of Aviation Copyright © 2005 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
References in periodicals archive ?
Then he'll leave guests with local snacks and hot drinks to fuel an evening of Northern Lights hunting.
To find out more about the work of Northern Lights visitwww.northernlightscharity.org.uk.
One of the best things about the Northern Lights in Canada, however, is the option to work it into a wider itinerary.
The cabins will be set up together to create a Aurora wilderness camp, in the best location for Northern Lights hunting.
With the exception of the homeless population who seemed to have been making use of the Northern Lights Hotel, everyone agreed it had to go for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was safety.
They then decamp to southern Sweden during the summer months and are both passionate about the Northern Lights and Arctic Sweden.
It continues to top many 'must-see-before-you-die' bucket lists, and this season a vast number of people will book a break in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights.
David Chennell captured this image of the Northern Lights above the Grace Darling, in Hoylake
The Twitterverse can help you catch a glimpse of the shimmering northern lights (shown above in Greenland).
Seeing the Northern Lights ranks high on most people's list of awesome trips and there's never been a better time to catch the most spectacular show on Earth.

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