THE AMAZING COLORS OF THE AURORA BORIALIS

My friend Paul sent me this amazing explanation of what the beautiful colors of the Northern Lights are caused by. I actually never even thought about the different colors of the Aurora Boralis being caused by different things happening in space. It's pretty amazing!

THE THREE STEPS OF THE AURORA BORIALIS

According to the Canadian Space Agency, this is what happens in three steps:

1. Solar Wind, which contains charged particles, interacts with earthe's magnetic field.

2. Then, the interaction with the particles, traps charged particles at the north and south pole.

3.The charged particles react with gasses in the atmosphere and produce excited and ionized gasses. The color of light emitted during the reaction depends on the type of gas involved.

Now we get into the colors.

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Photo by Edie Seelen
Photo by Edie Seelen
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WHAT DO THE VARIOUS COLORS OF THE NORTHERN LIGHTS INDICATE?

RED/PINK AURORA

Pink Aurora's aren't seen very often. They are only visible under intense solar activity due to low concentration of oxygen at high altitutdes. So if you've seen pink aurora's consider yourself lucky.  :-)  Pink Aurora's are seen above 150 miles or 241.4 km.

GREEN AURORA

I feel like Green Auroras are seen quite often. Green light is emitted instead of red because of the higher concenration of oxygen. You can see green auroras up to 150 miles or 241.4 km.

PURPLE & BLUE AURORA'S

Ionized molecular introgen reacts because atomic oxygen is uncommon at low alititudes. Similar to red aurora's, blue and purple aurora's are associated with intense solar activity. Purple aurora's are seen above 60 miles or 96.6 Km, while Blue aurora's are seen up to 60 miles or 96.6 km.

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