Science is the poetry of Nature.

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Posts tagged "Aurora"

Zodiacal Light

Pre dawn Zodical light (upper left) and Aurora (top) near Tensleep Wyoming on 8-27. - DakotaLapse

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Aurora from the plane by Paul Williams


Hubble Sees a Flickering Light Display on Saturn

Astronomers using the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope have captured new images of the dancing auroral lights at Saturn’s north pole.

Taken from Hubble’s perspective in orbit around the Earth, these images provide a detailed look at Saturn’s stormy aurorae — revealing previously unseen dynamics in the choreography of the auroral glow.

The cause of the changing patterns in Saturn’s aurorae is an ongoing mystery in planetary science. These ultraviolet images, taken by Hubble’s super-sensitive Advanced Camera for Surveys, add new insight by capturing moments when Saturn’s magnetic field is affected by bursts of particles streaming out from the Sun.

Saturn has a long, comet-like magnetic tail known as a magnetotail — as do Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune and Earth [1]. This magnetotail is present around planets that have a magnetic field, caused by a rotating core of magnetic elements. It appears that when bursts of particles from the Sun hit Saturn, the planet’s magnetotail collapses and later reconfigures itself, an event that is reflected in the dynamics of its aurorae.

Some of the bursts of light seen shooting around Saturn’s polar regions travelled at over three times faster than the speed of the gas giant’s rotation!

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Northern Lights Big Style by Göran Strand

On Thursday 27 of February we had a fantastic aurora here in Östersund with lots of red colors.

I took the opportunity to make my biggest panoramic image so far. The image below consists of 23 separate images with a 360 degree coverage from the horizon and all the way up to zenith.

The original image has a resolution of 25,000 x 14,000 pixels at 300 dpi and with a 16 bit color depth.


Night Sky Transforming by Shingo Takei

In a clear January night of suburb Fairbanks in Alaska, the mystic lights of aurora arc across the north sky. As noted by the photographer "While the sky was dominated by the dancing northern lights I heard the wolf howls nearby. It was not one. I heard it from every direction. It was a signal of breakup."

Dancing Lights by Babak A. Tafreshi


Aurora Crown

Northern lights in Finland. Aurora is a natural colored light display in the sky, particularly in the polar zone, which is produced by the collision of charged particles from Earth's magnetosphere, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, with atoms and molecules of Earth's atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km).

The particles originate from the Sun and reach the Earth in the stream of solar wind. - Pekka Parviainen


The color of the Aurora depends on the altitude and the atom being struck by solar radiation (causing excitation). At higher altitudes, there is more Atomic Oxygen than Nitrogen, leading to the common color stratifications you see.

500-200 km altitude
— Atomic Oxygen — Red
200-100 km
— Atomic Oxygen — Greenish-Yellow
— Ionized Nitrogen — Blue/Purple
100-80 km
— Nitrogen (N2) — Crimson

Oxygen only emits red at higher altitudes because once it’s excited, it takes a longer time to emit red than it does green. Why is that important? Well, at lower altitudes there is more Nitrogen for the Oxygen to bump into and absorb that excitation-energy before it gets a chance to emit red light. In this case, where the collision occurs, the Oxygen will emit Green and at low enough altitudes the Nitrogen-Oxygen collisions eventually prevent Oxygen from emitting any light at all.

During stronger storms, high energy solar particles will reach lower in the atmosphere and cause the Crimson emission from Nitrogen, creating a deep-red band at the lower edge of the aurora. Other elements emit light too, like Hydrogen (Blue) or Helium (Purple) which are at higher altitudes.

Sources and further reading:
ExploratoriumWindow2UniverseWikiGif source

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Northern Lights by Michel Favret


Curtians of Heaven

Colorful lights of Aurora Borealis appears over Lapland, northern Sweden.

Aurora is produced by the collision of high-energy charged particles, originated from the sun, with atoms and molecules of Earth's atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km).

The vivid green and purple auroral colors are caused by high atmospheric oxygen and hydrogen reacting to a burst of incoming electrons. Babak Tafreshi


Nel’s Bight Dancing Aurora by Burke Turkey


Meteor and Aurora Bow

During the Perseid Meteor Shower in August a bright meteor and an arc of aurora borealis is captured over Sweden, near Stockholm. Stars of the Big Dipper (prominent asterism in Ursa Major) appear near the top. - P-M Heden


Planet aurora astro-bubble

How fun is this?! “Here’s a panoramic image from the aurora on October 14,” wrote Swedish astrophotographer Göran Strand. “I’ve made a small world trapped inside a bubble floating in space. And a lonely photographer is trying to capture the ongoing aurora with his camera.”

Image credit and copyright: Göran Strand


Manitoba Aurora and Meteor

The photo above showing pale green northern lights pierced by a brilliant meteor was captured at the Grassy Narrows Marsh of Hecla/Grindstone Provincial Park in Manitoba, Canada on the night of August 28, 2013.

The northern lights (auroras) and meteors (shooting stars) are observed at somewhat similar altitudes; about 50-150 mi (80-240 km) and 35-70 miles (55-115 km) above the Earth’s surface, respectively. Auroras glow when the solar wind’s energized particles collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.

Shooting stars, however, owe their visibility primarily to ram pressure — the heating of the shock wave generated by compression of air ahead of meteoroids the size of sand or pebbles entering the Earth’s atmosphere.


Southern Lights

This was taken 11 hours later after impact from CME (Coronal Mass Ejection). The impact time was PM2:30 NZST. - Minoru Yoneto