Interesting facts about northern lights

Posted on May 14, 2022      24


Aurora Borealis, more often called the northern lights, is one of the most interesting natural phenomena. For centuries, people puzzled over what it is until, finally, scientific minds have not established what it is. Everyone who has seen the Aurora Borealis with his/her own eyes will always remember this incredible spectacle - as if high in the night sky a curtain of colorful, airy fabric is waving, or some aliens are putting on a grand laser show for the earthlings.

Facts about the northern lights

  • Native Eskimos have a legend that the northern lights are light falling from the windows of a heavenly palace where the souls of the dead live.
  • The first analyst mention of the northern lights, which has reached our days, was made in the 6th century B.C.
  • Aurora Borealis occurs not only on Earth but also on some other planets. On Jupiter, Saturn and Venus, for example, it has been recorded by astronomers more than once.
  • It can also be observed in the north and south. But because of the geographical remoteness of the South Pole, most often people go to the north for an unforgettable spectacle. Therefore, in fact, this natural phenomenon and usually called the northern lights.
  • Aurora Borealis may appear only on a planet with its own atmosphere and its own magnetic field.

  • In spring and fall, aurora borealis can be observed more often than in winter and summer.
  • On Earth, auroras are most often observed at altitudes of about 110 kilometers, although red glow is recorded at altitudes up to 400 kilometers.
  • In completely quiet, remote and uninhabited places, it is possible to hear sounds produced by the northern lights. These are muffled pops and crackles of static electricity. But you will need special equipment, as our ear is not sensitive enough to hear sounds in this range.
  • Because of solar storms, northern lights have been observed several times very far from the poles, even in the subtropics. This phenomenon was recorded even in Texas.
  • Archaeologists have discovered cave paintings made by primitive people depicting the aurora borealis. They are about 30,000 years old.
  • The first scientist to study the northern lights was Galileo.
  • The Vikings believed that the northern lights were a bridge between the earth and the heavens, bringing the gods down to humans.
  • The particularly bright northern lights are very strong, giving almost as much light as the full moon.
  • Northern Lights appear not only at night but also during the day, just in the daytime, it is not visible to the naked eye.
  • According to legend, before the famous battle of Alexander Nevsky with the Teutonic Knights on Lake Peipsi, a powerful aurora borealis was seen in the sky, which was regarded as a good sign.
  • Some indigenous peoples of the North, and different ones, have a custom of holding ritual dances and dances when the northern lights appear in the sky.

  • NASA publishes predictions of northern lights on its website based on the intensity of solar flares.
  • In 1859, people could see the brightest and longest northern lights in the history of civilization. It arose because of a powerful geomagnetic storm, which lasted almost 5 days.
  • On Venus shrouded in dense clouds, northern lights are sometimes so powerful that they cover almost the entire planet.
  • On Saturn, flashes of northern lights are fixed up to 1200 kilometers above the conditional surface. Conditional - because it has no solid surface, and the reference point is taken as the upper boundary of dense layers of the atmosphere.
  • Aurora Borealis sometimes lasts only 10-20 minutes, but sometimes it can be observed for 40-50 hours in a row.
  • The highest northern lights over the Earth were fixed at a height of 643 kilometers.
  • Aurora Borealis color depends on which atmospheric gas is involved in its production. Nitrogen, for example, gives purple flashes, and oxygen - red.
  • Onboard, the ISS astronauts stay at the same altitude as the aurora borealis, so they can see it “from the side”.
  • The strongest and brightest northern lights are observed during the peak of solar activity. Cycle of solar flares lasts about 11 years.
  • Most often (up to 200-250 nights per year) northern lights can be observed in Alaska and Greenland.
  • Under normal conditions, northern lights have a length of about 3 thousand kilometers. It depends on the magnetic field of our planet. During geomagnetic storms, this figure can increase.