The Aurora Facts

The Aurora Facts
At the North and South Magnetic Poles of our planet Earth, we see the sky light up, flash and shimmer. We call this effect an aurora. In the northern hemisphere it is called the Aurora borealis, also known as the "Northern Lights". In the southern hemisphere, it is called Aurora australis, also known as the "Southern Lights".
Interesting The Aurora Facts:
Particles too small to see with our eyes, called plasma, stream away from the Sun travelling at 1,000,000 mph (1,609,344 km/hr). This stream of particles is called the Solar Wind.
Plasma is made up of mainly electrons with some protons.
The Solar wind takes 40 hours to reach our plant's atmosphere because the Earth is 92,960,000 miles (149,600,00 km) away from the Sun.
The Solar wind comes into contact with the gases in the Earth's atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic field. This causes the gases in our atmosphere to light up and this is what we call an aurora.
The aurora light can be a different color, depending on the type of gas the plasma mixes with and the height above the Earth's surface.
Nitrogen in the air 60 miles above the planet's surface reacts with the plasma in the solar wind and turns the sky blue.
Nitrogen in the air more than 60 miles (96.5 km) above the planet's surface reacts with the plasma and turns the sky purple.
Oxygen in the air from 60 miles (96.5 km) up to 150 miles (241 km) above the planet's surface reacts with the plasma in the solar wind and turns the sky green.
Oxygen more than 150 miles (241 km) above the planet's surface reacts with the plasma in the solar wind and turns the sky red.
The aurora tends to disappear at heights of 120 to 200 miles (200 to 300 km) above the Earth's surface.
The aurora look like moving ribbons of light because the particles of plasma are moving in response to the Earth's magnetic field.
The plasma forming the aurora move as an electric current in the air, flowing at 20,000,000 Amps with a voltage of 50,000 volts.
The best place to see the Aurora borealis is Alaska, USA in the winter months when it is constantly (24 hours) of darkness.
In Europe one of the best places to see the Aurora borealis is Tromso, Norway and the city of Murmansk on the Kola Peninsula of Russia.
The best place to see the Aurora australis is in Antarctica in the winter months. If the Aurora australis is strong, then it can be seen in Tasmania, Australia and Stewart Island off the southern coast of New Zealand.
When solar storms erupt on the surface of the Sun, the aurora is very strong and extends further away from the Earth's poles.
In 1989, the Aurora borealis could be seen as far south as Florida, USA and the island of Cuba.
The aurora can also be closer to the Earth's surface at 50 miles (80 km) at times of intense solar activity.
The solar wind can disrupt our radio, television and satellite communications.
Astronauts on duty in the International Space Station orbiting our planet at an altitude of 230 miles (370 km) above the Earth are level with the Aurora borealis.
The Aurora borealis was named by the Italian scientist Galileo Galilei from the Roman word for "Goddess of the Dawn" which is "Aurora" and from the Greek word used to describe a "wind of the north" which is "Boreas".

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