November 04, 2009

The Aurora(s).

Once in a while I post pictures from a favorite book of mine called "Astronomy, 365 days". It was given to me as a Christmas gift last year and I love the fact that it displays astronomy pictures for each day of the year.

For the 4th of November the picture in the book depicts a fish-eye view of a colourful auroral corona near Quebec, Canada. The reds and green are absolutely vivid and create an abstract painting in the night sky.

The Auroras, or also called the Northern Lights are spectacular light shows that can be observed in the nights sky near to polar regions. They are most frequent around the equinoxes; that means from March to April and September to October. In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the aurora borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621. The auroras, both surrounding the north magnetic pole (aurora borealis) and south magnetic pole (aurora australis) occur when highly charged electrons from the solar wind interact with elements in the earth's atmosphere.
As the electrons enter the earth's upper atmosphere, they will encounter atoms of oxygen and nitrogen at altitudes from 20 to 200 miles above the earth's surface. The color of the aurora depends on which atom is struck, and the altitude of the meeting.

* Green - oxygen, up to 150 miles in altitude
* Red - oxygen, above 150 miles in altitude
* Blue - nitrogen, up to 60 miles in altitude
* Purple/violet - nitrogen, above 60 miles in altitude

Although I live in the north, I have yet to experience the magic of Northern Lights. The only Aurora I was familiar with as a child was oddly enough a ship. Or rather a Russian cruiser that became a symbol for the Russian Revolution, as it was taught to us in school in the former communist bloc. On the 7th of November 1917 (25th October 1917 in Julian calendar), the refusal of an order for the Aurora to take to sea sparked the October Revolution. At 9.45 p.m. on that date, a blank shot from her forecastle gun signaled the start of the assault on the Winter Palace, which was to be the last episode of the revolution.


Blogaire said...

This is a very interesting post from you Protege:) My teacher at National School taught us about Aurora Borealis which he had seen. He came from a small island off the north western coast and had a fishing boat and once sailed as far as Iceland in his small craft.
The Russian Revolution episode I didn't know about but I found this really informative as I just love history.

Unknown said...

wow. I think the last time i saw aurora borealis was when i was 7 years old. My whole family was in our grandfather's farm. Oh it was beautiful. I can never forget the awe i felt seeing one finally. I used to call it cotton candy sky.

btw i can't believe you're not in my links. Am so sorry took me a long time to notice. You've been linked now. I can't miss any of your post from now on. hihihi.

have a great day!

I Am Denise Katipunera

Beep said...

Something I've wanted to see since I was little :) Maybe someday!

MsTypo said...

Seeing the Aurora Borealas in person is something that is definitely on my bucket list. I would love to see the Northern Lights in person.

Nessa said...

The book sounds fascinating. My husband gave me a telescope for Christmas last year. I am still learning.

Wordless Wednesday - Cody's Help and Halloween

Reading Tea Leaves said...

I remember learning about the Aurora Russian cruiser at school too ... always been interested in the Russian Revolution ... love history.

The Aurora borealis is definitely on my must-see list. What a great book you have there. Wonderfully informative post yet again, thank you!

Jeanne x

Tom said...

I'm a pro astronomer. I have yet to see the northern or southern lights. It's killing me. I think I saw them once on a flight between London and Chicago but wasn't sure - nor were the pilots and crew.

I now live and work in the best place for astronomy in the world but it's the worst place on the planet to see the Northern lights.

One day I'm going to save a little money and actually visit some place I can see them if it's the last thing I do.

Anyone want to put me up for a few days?


Betsy Brock said...

If I had a 'bucket list', seeing that would be on it! :)

Brian Miller said...

really this fascinates me...have always wanted to see it in person. perhaps one day...

Shelly's Style Shop said...

Thank you for your sweet comment on my post. ;-)

Wow! So beautiful. I have never seem on myself, but would love too! I am sure it would be an amazing experience.

What a GREAT post!

xoxo, Shelly

Keith said...

That's awesome. It sounds like a great book. I still love astronomy, but I was very much into it when I was a young boy. That was one of my obsessions.

G said...

It's on my list of things I really want to experience. Thanks for the information Protege. :)

Claus said...

As love documentaries, I like to tune the Discovery Channel. Among many intersting documentaries, they once had one about the Sun, which included the Aurora Borealis. So interesting!, beautiful to see I'm sure, but do you know if it is a good thing? I got from the documentary that they were not always a good and positive thing for the Earth?

Keera Ann Fox said...

I'm farther north than you, Protege, but have seen the northern lights in person only three times and that was a coouple of decades ago. Both solar and earth weather conditions have to be just right (and it helps to have no light pollution) for us to see them south of the Arctic circle.

Phivos Nicolaides said...

It's really interesting!

Unknown said...

So nice of you to share such an interesting gift with us, Protege! There is value in any gift we receive, whether large or small. You truly appreciate the gift and the giver and that is refreshing! :)

Stacey J. Warner said...

I hope one day see the Northern Lights...there is so much to see int he world...

much love

Barry said...

My wife and I lived in Northern Ontario for a decade and loved the aurora borealis. The winters could be long and confining and, in contrast, the aurora were always bright and playful

Jeannette StG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeannette StG said...

Sorry, I deleted my comment - too many typos:) Last week a friend of us sent us an email with pics about the Northern lights, including a fire storm...stunning!!! So the info of your post makes so much sense-thanks:)

About your profile: having 2 parents from a similar area, have you been there? It is worth visiting! (now you can without all those visa's)
Of course not as developed as the USA. What once was called Czechoslovakia is beautiful! We were also several times in Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria.

sprinkles said...

I think my father has that same book or one very similar to it. He really seems to enjoy it.

Holly said...

What a fascinating post!! I have never had the opportunity to see 'the Northern Lights'. Hopefully someday. It is very intrigueing all of the science that stands behind such occurances. (But then what do I expect from my mad scientist friend?;);)) I love the reminder that there is so much more to appreciate from natural wonders then jsut what you see happening.

Your drive through the country side last post was breathtaking!!

Stickhorsecowgirls said...

Thank of my ambitions to see this. C.

Diane said...

Seeing the Northern Lights are on my 'bucket list' :)

j. said...

The Northern Lights have always intrigued me.. So magical! Its hard to think of it as being made of gases.. haha..


Mahmud Yussop said...

Must be a wonder to see these auroras.BTW, we have a hotel once in Bintulu called the Aurora Beach Hotel :)

steviewren said...

I see I'm not the only one who would like to see the Auroras. I imagine it would be awe inspiring.

Maria said...

The Northern Lights is something that I would very much like to see!

Zuzana said...

so glad you too enjoy history.;) Wow, he sailed all the way to Iceland, what a brave man. Always very happy when you stop by.;)

how wonderful that you have seen Aurora, I am amazed. Cotton Candy is a very appropriate description. Thank you for the link and kind words about my posts.;) xoxo

I feel the same way.;) Always happy when you stop by.;) xoxo

here is hoping that you will one day.;) Your visits are so appreciated.;) xoxo

what a wonderful gift, I so wish I would own a telescope.;) xo

glad I am not the only one to recall the ship from your school days.;) Thank you for your kind comments every time.;) xo

ah, I so wish for you to see it, I so understand how important that is to an astronomer.;) And when you do I am sure the pictures you will take will be out of this world.;)

likewise, always happy when you stop by.;) xo

you and me both.;) I hope you will get the chance in the future to gaze at it with your wife.;)

thank you, so happy you enjoyed this.;) Always happy to see you stopping by.;) xo

so happy to hear that you too like the science of the universe.;) I agree, it is awesome, thank you for your always kind words.;)

and thank you, I am glad you enjoyed this.;) xo

yes, I love to watch the Discovery channel or the National Geographic, their documentaries are always excellent. As for the impact of the Auroras on Earth, I a do not think they are dangerous, but then again, I am not a physicist .;) I guess they signify to some degree explosions on the sun surface, so perhaps some of the sun storms might affect our planet negatively, but I really could not tell.;)

you are completely right, seeing them in southern Scandinavia is a rarity.;) xo

thank you and thank you for stopping by.;) xo

I agree, I love the gifts I receive and this particular holds a special meaning to me.;) Your comments are always so kind and your words very generous.;)

I agree, so much to see, so little time.;) xo

welcome.;) How wonderful to have seen the magical light show in such a great company.;) Thank you so much for stopping by.;)

I bet those pictures must have been out of this world.;)
Yes, I lived in Czechoslovakia until the age of 13, so I remember it well and speak both languages fluently. I agree, it is a beautiful country.;) I do visit Czech republic often as my parents today live in Prague.;) No visa necessary anymore.;)
I really enjoyed this comment(do not worry about the typos, I make plenty constantly.;) xoxo

yes, I think I remember you mentioning this before, what a coincidence.;) Your visits are very much appreciated.;) xo

always enjoy when you stop by, leaving the most kind and happy comments.;) Glad you enjoyed the pictures of my drive as well.;) xoxo

I hope you will get the chance one day.;)

on mine too.;) Hope we get our wishes, dear friend.,) xo

your comment made me smile, I agree, only gases - yet so spectacular.;) xoxo

welcome back my friend.;) A nice name for a hotel I must say.;) Always so glad when you stop by.;)

yes, it seems that everyone would love to watch this light show in the night sky, me included.;) xoxo

me too.;) Thank you for always finding the time to stop by.;)xoxo

Gal Friday said...

I have yet to see the "Northern Lights"--hope I will, someday...
I used to work with a girl named Aurora, and the annoying boss would constantly call her Miss Aurora Borealis--it was funny the first time he said it, and never again.

sallymandy said...

Gorgeous..that's one of the most spectacular aurora photos I've ever seen. Thanks for this scientific explanation. I marveled at the aurora for four years living in Alaska, and miss it now that I don't see it anymore.

Have a good weekend, Z.

Zuzana said...

and I hope you will too. I think I can understand your co-workers unhappiness with the nickname.;)

ah, it must have been an unbelievable sight.;) Thank you for your kind words.;)