The ‘Northern Lights’ or Aurora Borealis as it is officially called, is one of the most magnificent marvels nature has ever created. Showing up in different forms across Earth’s northern hemisphere, these dramatic lights are seen in the night sky, and most in the middle of the night, during winters. Aurora Borealis is caused by gaseous particles from Earth’s atmosphere colliding with charged particles emitted from the Sun, resulting in the entire sky lighting up in myriad colours and hues. You may have heard about this spectacular phenomenon, but there are numerous other intriguing facts about Northern Lights that you need to know. Here are a few of them:
Facts about the majestic and mystic Northern lights!
- The name ‘Aurora’ comes from Roman Goddess of dawn of the same name.
- There are so many legends surround Northern Lights. Inuit North American tribes still believe that aurora happens when the spirits of the dead play football with the head of a walrus!!
- Yet another legend has it that the goddess Aurora flies across the sky every day before dawn to let the world know that the sun is about to come up!
- In Finland’s Lapland, one of Santa Claus’ many homes, locals call this extraordinary phenomenon “revontulet”, meaning “fox fires”. It is believed here that an Artic fox runs through the sky, creating these colourful swirls of light with its bushy tail. Interesting, huh?
- Did you know that there’s also the Southern Lights, Northern Lights’ equivalent down south? Aurora Australis, as it is also called, happens in the southern hemisphere and can be seen from countries like Australia, Antarctica, South America, and New Zealand.
- However, since the South Pole isn’t as accessible or hospitable as the North Pole, it’s much more difficult to view Aurora Australis, which is why Northern Lights is much more popular.
- Astronauts on board the International Space Station are at the same altitude as the Northern Lights and see them from the side. Amazing, right?!
- Aurora Borealis can be seen from space too. The light surrounds Earth’s orbit and it is dark enough up there to give you a breath-taking sight.
- What’s more, Auroras have also been observed on other planets as well, such as Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Mars, and Uranus.
- The colours of Auroras change depending on the gases involved, as well as the altitude of the occurrence. For example, the blue and green lights form at lower altitudes, while the red colour comes from the highest altitudes.
- High solar sunspot activity causes the Northern Lights to be more frequent and striking, and it happens in a 11-year-cycle. The last such spectacle happened in 2013.
- Auroras have been observed since ancient times, with the earliest known account of Northern Lights appearing on a Babylonian clay tablet in 568/567 BC.