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Posted by on Apr 13, 2015 in TellMeWhy |

What Is the Aurora Borealis?

What Is the Aurora Borealis?

What Is the Aurora Borealis? Aurora borealis is a spectacle of lights seen at night in the Northern Skies, especially in the arctic regions. Also, called the Northern lights, these colorful displays of flickering glowing lights are caused by tremendous storms on the sun known as sun spots.

The storms shoot out large quantities of electrified particles toward the earth making earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere react. When these particles strike the thin gases in the earth’s upper atmosphere, they cause the gases to glow in many colors, much like a gigantic neon light. The more storms on the sun, the larger the aurora is.

So today the mystery of the aurora is not as mysterious as it used to be. Yet people still travel thousands of miles to see the brilliant natural light shows in Earth’s atmosphere. And even though we know the scientific reason for the aurora, the dazzling natural light show can still fire our imaginations to visualize fire bridges, gods or dancing ghosts.

Is aurora borealis dangerous? 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.

Can you hear the aurora borealis? The northern lights do make noises that can be heard down on the ground. Other people who have heard the aurora sounds have described them as distant noise and sputter. Because of these different descriptions, researchers suspect that there are several mechanisms behind the formation of these aurora sounds.

Content for this question contributed by Heather Sabino, resident of Beaver County in Western Pennsylvania, USA