Origin of northern lights
Words nearby northern lights
What are the northern lights?
The northern lights are the shimmering display of lights that sometimes appears in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere.
The phenomenon is also commonly called the aurora borealis. The northern lights are an aurora—a natural light display in the sky that is caused by particles from the sun interacting with Earth’s magnetic field. The word borealis is Latin for boreal, which simply means “northern.” The northern lights appear in many colors ranging from green and pink to red, yellow, and blue.
Auroras are not exclusive to Earth and occur on every planet in our solar system except Mercury. And the northern lights are not the only aurora on Earth. The aurora in the Southern Hemisphere is called the southern lights or aurora australis. Both the northern and southern versions can be called aurora polaris because they occur around Earth’s poles, but this term is not commonly used.
The northern lights dazzle the many people who travel to see the natural light show, which is considered one of Earth’s most magical phenomena.
Why are the northern lights important?
If you happen to find yourself way up north, you might get the chance to see a natural light display that puts any fireworks to shame. This light show is called the northern lights or aurora borealis and humans have been amazed by it for thousands of years. Recorded sightings date back to the ancient Babylonians and Assyrians, and the phenomenon may even be depicted in some ancient cave paintings. The term northern lights has been used since around 1720s. The name aurora borealis is thought to have been coined by Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei in the 1600s. The lights are named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of the dawn. The word borealis means “northern.”
The northern lights are a kind of aurora, a natural light display that occurs in the skies close to Earth’s north and south poles. The process that results in an aurora starts at the sun. Because it is both very hot and very magnetic, the sun frequently releases charged particles (such as protons and electrons) into space that zip toward the planets, including Earth. Earth is surrounded by an invisible magnetic field that protects it (and us) from this solar wind by bouncing it back into space. However, the magnetic field is weakest at Earth’s north and south poles, and some solar particles manage to enter Earth’s atmosphere close to these areas and collide with Earth’s gas particles (oxygen, nitrogen, etc). These collisions emit light that the human eye can see and this, finally, results in an aurora. The northern lights are the northern aurora, and the southern aurora is called the southern lights or aurora australis (australis is Latin for “southern,” and, yes, Australia’s name is based on this word).
While the northern lights technically appear throughout the year, the human eye isn’t always able to see them. The visibility of the northern lights depends on multiple factors such as your location, the weather, and the time of the year. Organizations such as NASA and NOAA that have studied the northern lights provide information for “aurora hunters”—people seeking to observe the lights. The northern lights are easiest to see during winter in cold, northern places such as Canada, Scandinavia, Greenland, Russia, and the North Pole itself, though they are sometimes visible at locations farther south.
Did you know ... ?
Like many celestial phenomena, the northern lights have been seen as an omen or sign of the gods by many different cultures. For example, a bright red aurora borealis was said to have been visible in the skies prior to the death of Julius Caesar as well as the outbreaks of the American Civil War and the French Revolution. This rare “bloody” version of the northern lights was thought to signal incoming bloodshed or violence.
What are real-life examples of the northern lights?
The northern lights are a spectacular display that can appear in many different colors. Some people travel just to see them.
A stunning display of the Northern Lights revealed outside Matthew Robinson's door at the Aurora Borealis Observatory on the north Norwegian island of Senja. pic.twitter.com/0zknK7GhQ9
— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) November 26, 2020
Northern lights over the snowy forests of Umeå, northern Sweden. 😍 Trevlig helg! Lovely weekend to you all!
📷: Fredrik Larsson/imagebank.sweden.se pic.twitter.com/yGe8KzCEm6
— Sweden.se (@swedense) November 27, 2020
What other words are related to the northern lights?
True or False?
The northern lights are caused by lightning.
How to use northern lights in a sentence
In that photo, Merabet has a big smile that spreads across his whole face and lights up his eyes.
Unconfirmed reports in the French media claimed that the brothers were spotted at a gas station in northern France on Thursday.
As of Thursday night, the brothers remained on the loose, last seen in northern France.U.S. Spies See Al Qaeda Fingerprints on Paris Massacre|Shane Harris, Nancy A. Youssef|January 8, 2015|DAILY BEAST
His New Deal Coalition brought together Southerners, Northern ethnic minorities, and urban blacks under the same banner.Steve Scalise Shows There’s a Fine Line Between Confederate & Southern|Lloyd Green|January 2, 2015|DAILY BEAST
There were stories of distant strife, in Bosnia, Rwanda, and Northern Ireland, and those stories had the whiff of a different era.
She skilfully manages the side-lights, and by this means produces strong effects.Women in the fine arts, from the Seventh Century B.C. to the Twentieth Century A.D.|Clara Erskine Clement
The bride elect rushes up to him, and so they both step down to the foot-lights.Physiology of The Opera|John H. Swaby (AKA "Scrici")
He signalized himself by a great victory which he obtained on the banks of the Neva, over the northern powers.The Every Day Book of History and Chronology|Joel Munsell
Two many-branched candelabra, holding wax lights, brilliantly illuminate the game.
Lamb fills his case, and lights this the ne plus ultra of a soothing weed.
British Dictionary definitions for northern lights
Scientific definitions for northern lights
Cultural definitions for northern lights
See aurora borealis.