Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Aurora Borealis over Scotland

Aurora Borealis over Scotland

Astrophotographer Alan Tough: "This was the scene around local midnight. At times, the reds were so intense the colour could be picked up by the unaided eye."
On Earth, auroras are mainly created by particles originally emitted by the Sun in the form of solar wind. When this stream of electrically charged particles gets close to our planet, it interacts with the magnetic field, which acts as a gigantic shield. While it protects Earth’s environment from solar wind particles, it can also trap a small fraction of them. Particles trapped within the magnetosphere—the region of space surrounding Earth in which charged particles are affected by its magnetic field—can be energized and then follow the magnetic field lines down to the magnetic poles. There, they interact with oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the upper layers of the atmosphere, creating the flickering, colorful lights visible in the polar regions here on Earth.

Earth auroras have different names depending on which pole they occur at. Aurora Borealis, or the northern lights, is the name given to auroras around the north pole and Aurora Australis, or the southern lights, is the name given for auroras around the south pole.

Learn more:
The Colors of the Aurora (National Park Service)

NASA - About Aurora
Image Credit & Copyright: Alan Tough
Location: Northeast Scotland, United Kingdom
Image Date: Sept. 24, 2023

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