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What Causes the Northern Lights

After being mesmerized with such a beautiful sight, what causes the northern lights is the question that pops in our minds right away. Seeing the northern lights or aurora borealis is like a miraculous experience and many people are interested to know how these marvelous spectacles come about.

Some Myths about the Northern Lights

Native Americans thought the northern lights are gods that dance above the heavens. Greenland's Eskimos thought it was the territory of the dead, and if the lights swiftly changed, it meant dead relatives try to get in touch with their living loved ones. Romans thought that "Aurora" was the spirit goddess of dawn.

The Chinese perceived northern lights were good and evil dragons fighting with each other.

What Science Says about Northern Lights

What causes the Northern Lights are the large numbers of particles in the sky that are electrically charged and are traveling at high speed. As they travel toward Earth, they run into air particles along the magnetic field. In effect, the sky lights up and also the colors reflect the gases that are present in the atmosphere. The yellow green light which is the most usual color comes from oxygen, blue comes from nitrogen and red comes from a combination of oxygen and nitrogen.

As soon as the particles are trapped in the earth's magnetic field, they are pulled towards the Polar Regions. As a result, lights can be seen in the areas nearest to the Polar Regions like Canada, Alaska and Norway. The said charged particles come from the sun. Whether we see the northern lights in the sky depends on the weather condition in the sun.

When to See Northern Lights

After knowing what causes Northern Lights, you should know the best time to view them. The most ideal time to view the northern lights is during the winter months since the sky is darkest during winter and no other lights become visible in the sky that will disrupt the display.

You can see the Northern Lights each night, every other night or a few times a month depending on your location. Norway is the place that has the most views of the aurora. In a clear sky, you can view them nearly every other night. You may also view the lights in the aurora zone's north and south regions. You can view the northern lights for yourself by traveling northwards into Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Lapland or northern Canada.

Though we are aware what causes the Northern Lights, still there are people who are cynical with regard to their real cause. Since science always studies the extraordinary event, many people are increasingly taking a trip to the Polar Region to view the splendor of the northern lights.

At least, now we are aware that it isn't the dragons, gods or spirits doing it, but the particles in the solar wind that collide with the air molecules in our atmosphere. Actually, no matter what causes the northern lights, one thing's for sure, it does not make this natural spectacle less magnificent.

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What Causes the Northern Lights

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