There is more to a spectacular light show than the aesthetics that it presents in a photograph. Did you know what makes the Northern Lights and when, specifically, it comes to display? Those are just a few of the interesting northern lights facts that you are about to learn from this article. Add some fun knowledge to that magnificent visual!
Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer, first named the Northern Lights in 1619.
He was the first person to describe the phenomenon into a document. Pairing the terms ‘Aurora’ and ‘Borealis,’ Galilei defined how he saw the aurora as a reflection of sunlight in the atmosphere.
The same man presented the story behind the ‘Aurora Borealis’ name.
Since Galilei believed that the lights were sunlight upon seeing it light up the sky, he thought of Aurora, the goddess of the morning. Borealis is the Greek word for North and pertains to the best location to view the lights.
Mother Shuan-Yuan of China’s Yellow Empire narrated her own experience of seeing reflections and illuminations in the constellation area of Bei-Dou.
Earlier recognition of the Northern Lights was recorded in China in 2600 B.C.
The reference of the name ‘Northern Lights’ only came later as an implication of its most accessible location for the experience.
The greener the color of the aurora appears, the closer it is to you. They would seem as green as possible most of the time as well due to the fact that your eyes are not capable of handling the sight of the colors’ strong varieties.
The deeper red the aurora is, the higher it is in the sky.
It would mean that the solar particles present in the oxygen are at higher levels than normal, and it could be as far away as 400 miles.
Every light display is as unique as a snowflake.
The North Pole has a pull on the colliding particles, hence the interaction with the atmosphere. Upon the release of energy comes the lights show.
Variables such as gases, speed, and interaction cause the diversity which differs every single time.
The Northern Lights are often accompanied by sounds similar to the clapping of a thunderstorm.
Some nights, there is more than just the visual display. Maximum aurora activity also produces crackling and clapping sounds that could be heard for miles.
The audio factor is the result of the projection of charged particles from the Sun followed by interaction with the magnetic field of the Earth.
The occurrence of Northern Lights is considered one of the perks of residence in Alaska and Greenland.
As it turns out, bearing with the eternal cold is not that bad after all if it means you could see the aurora phenomenon any time of the year. Both locations are so close to the Northern Hemisphere that they are known for being the best locations for viewing.
The Southern Lights or ‘Aurora Australis’ exists on the opposite side of the famous lights show. Aside from the inaccessibility of the location, it also has limited researchers and abundant wildlife.
Only a few explorers and researchers attempt to trek unsafe land for the southern lights given its twin north version.
Viewing the Northern Lights through the camera is the best way to see it.
Sadly, the human eye falls short in the capacity to see the spectacle to the fullest. Aside from the eye’s sensitivity for certain colors, the speed of the aurora’s movement is also a factor.
That is why it is highly advisable to use a camera with a quick shutter speed as it could help you identify more colors and appreciate the sight even more.
The starting time and length of the shows are unpredictable.
You would need a lot of patience if you really want to catch the Northern Lights. The average visibility time is from 4 pm – 6 am every night, while the hours between 10 pm and 1 am are considered the best times to wait.
Moreover, the magnitude of the incoming solar wind influences the length of a show.
Scientists claim that Northern Light sightings are about to fade in the next decade.
The occurrence of the phenomenon becomes more frequent and sensational when the solar sunspot activity is high. However, its cycle only lasts about 11 years.
While the Northern Lights would expectedly appear less often for the next decade, it would not fully disappear.
Though rather unexpected, the Isle of Skye in Scotland offers a rather stunning view of the Northern Lights.
The clear and pollution-free skies of the serene city make Scotland a great place to go stargazing. While the place is not on the list of top places for aurora viewing, it has a calming climate over a wide-opened area that makes it impossible to miss the lights show from the said country.
Even Murmansk, Russia is another place to catch the aurora.
The largest city ahead of the Arctic Circle has better weather compared to Alaska and Sweden. So if you are not that much of a fan of the cold, then viewing the Northern Lights from this city would be the wiser choice.
Reykjavik, Iceland is the ultimate tourist pick for aurora enthusiasts.
The Northern Lights were mainly what made the country popular among the tourists. Most of the tour companies from the place offer another free trip if you fail to catch a lights show from your current one.