Home    Contact us   

What causes Northern Lights

A number of people have asked themselves the same question at some point in life. Many people have different answers as the scientists
have not given standardized answers for this phenomenon. In Alaska for example, the experience displays a very powerful presence of the northern lights which leaves an enduring memory in all and any viewers. The term commonly given by the natives there is aurora borealis, meaning it has different names depending on the location. Itís hard for one to understand clearly what causes this or when is the best time of the year to view this phenomenon. However, there are a few factors which contribute to the whole experience.

The northern lights usually appear when the sun experiences large flares of particles that are thrown into space. These particles therefore form the popular known plasma clouds that reach the earth surface depending on the speed of movement. According to recent findings, experts discovered that the particles take about two to three days to reach the earth, which is a short time considering the distance to be covered. Before the plasma clouds reach the earth, they are captured in one way or another by the magnetic field present on the earth surface and hence directed towards the two magnetic fields, that is the North Pole and the South Pole. The two poles play a vital role in the northern light formation as they ultimately stop the further movement of plasma clouds and protect the atmosphere from deadly particles.

A collision occurs when the solar particles are restricted from moving further into the earthís atmosphere. This collision in turn releases some sort of energy which occurs between
the atmospheric gases and the solar particles in form of a photon or light particle. The light particles formed are so many that it's quite hard for anyone to estimate, meaning they emerge in terms of seconds overlapping each other. The light particles are therefore released into the atmosphere causing the so called northern lights. In general, millions of these light particles are normally seen to dance across the sky as they concentrate in one area over time.

In parts such as Alaska, northern lights normally appear in the months of winter, say October through March. This has therefore resulted in many visitors flocking during those time frames to enjoy the amazing sight that is considered exciting by many. This time frame is therefore the best because you can view all you want, normally facilitated by the dark presences. Northern lights are best seen above 60 degrees north latitude and above 65 degrees you're guaranteed to see the brightest northern lights.

In general, Northern lights resulting from the high energy cosmic radiation form when the sun interacts with the available atoms that are nitrogen or oxygen, normally in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. The atoms are thus kicked into a higher energy level when radiation strikes, even a little bit. As the atoms change back to their original state, some energy is emitted which in turn forms the light popularly seen as Aurora.


↑ Back to Top


What causes Northern Lights






Northern lights cruises  |  Site Map  |  Resources  |  Privacy  |  Contact Us