What is an Aurora? Best places to watch

11:52 AM Oct 03, 2021 | Team Udayavani |
Auroras, is a natural phenomenon characterised by display of brilliant lights that appear as curtains, rays, spirals or dynamic flickers covering the entire sky.
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If you are near the North or South Pole, you may witness a delight in the night sky known as the auroras. If you are near the North Pole, it is called an aurora borealis or northern lights and if you are near the South Pole, it is called an aurora australis or the southern lights.


What causes the aurora borealis or northern lights?

Though auroras are best seen at night, they are actually caused by the Sun.

The study states that “Solar storms on our star’s surface give out huge clouds of electrically charged particles. These particles can travel millions of miles, and some may eventually collide with the Earth.”

During one kind of solar storm called a coronal mass ejection, the Sun burps out a huge bubble of electrified gas that can travel through space at high speeds.


NASA explains, “When a solar storm comes toward us, some of the energy and small particles can travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into Earth’s atmosphere.”

Further adding that the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere resulting in beautiful displays of light in the sky. Oxygen gives off green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and purple.

Fun fact: Not only earth, but other planets like Jupiter and Saturn also get auroras.

Apart from Iceland, below is a list of other places that serve as the grandstand for the beautiful lights.

  1. Alaska:  You are almost guaranteed to spot the spectacular Aurora in this region of the United States.
  2. Norway: During the months of December, January and March one can witness the charm of the Aurora Borealis.
  3. Canada: Canada flaunts the numerous places it can offer to witness the northern lights.

  4. Greenland: The Aurora Borealis can be seen from any part of this country and the ivory snow creates a neutral canvas for nature’s lively palette of greens, purples, and blues.

  5. Russia: The best place to watch the light and dance show of nature in Russia is Murmansk.
  6. Sweden: Being very close to the Norwegian region, almost any place in the country that is away from the brightness of the city is apt to watch the Aurora borealis.

  7. New Zealand: Aurora Australis is one the best things this island nation has to offer.

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