A collection of stunning Aurora Borealis or ‘northern lights’ pictures from national Geographic that capture beautifully this amazing phenomenon. Just imagine what people must have thought thousands of years ago and saw streams and swirls of colours in the night sky. Watching this spectacular celestial phenomena today is beyond spectacular, truly a magnificent sight and of course is photographers dream. I was luck enough to witness the northern lights from a flight back from Calgary to the UK a few years back. For two hours I gazed in awe out of the window at the dancing green lights all around the sky. Amazing but would love to see it from the ground.
All it takes is for the earth to have an atmosphere and the sun to eject ions at speeds up to 1200 km/second then hey presto, you’ve got yourself some unbelievably cool mother nature action!
Is there a hidden order to the Northern Lights?
The shifting, shimmering Northern Lights might be more ordered than anyone realised. New observations suggest that, contrary to expectations, some of the colourful light shows appear to be polarised, with their electromagnetic waves lined up in a common orientation. If confirmed, the discovery will provide a powerful new tool to understand the Earth’s magnetic field and the atmospheres of other planets.
Auroras shine because charged particles from the Sun, such as electrons, get captured by the Earth’s magnetic field. The field channels the particles into the atmosphere above the Earth’s poles, where they collide with gas particles, causing them to glow. But scientists have long doubted the process could lead to polarised auroras. That’s because there were thought to be too many atmospheric collisions for the resulting electromagnetic waves to be neatly aligned.
In fact, when Australian researcher Robert Duncan announced in 1958 that he had detected one instance of polarisation in the nocturnal display after many nights of searching, his findings were disputed and the observation was dismissed within a year. Now, scientists working on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen far north in the Arctic have found new evidence of the phenomenon.