As a teenager I did a lot of camping with my grandparents and extended family during the summers. We usually went to the wooded areas or by lakes and rivers. At night on these fieldtrips, we’d take a flashlight and find a hiking trail, walk for maybe an hour or so, then turn around and head back. The night hikes were always my favorites because in my opinion, the forest came alive long after the sun set. You could hear wolves howl, see radiant stars you otherwise couldn’t in the city, and if you’re very lucky, you could glimpse the northern lights. The Aurora Borealis.
The one I saw with my family was mainly a bright, vivid green, with vibrant blues, and whispers of violet purples. We were close enough to hear the aurora crackle like foil, and the feeling was like having wire threads running loose in my brain. The back of my eyes felt like they were being stepped on and my head felt as though it was being compressed. I have a sensitivity to light and need glasses because I’m near sided, so seeing the northern light for the first time was both incredibly beautiful and horribly nauseating to stare at. As an adult, I’d still like to see them again, but perhaps this time around I’ll bring some Dramamine tablets.
If you happen to live or visit the lower parts of the southern hemisphere, the lights there are called the Aurora Australis. Both auroras form in the Earth’s northern and southernmost quadraspheres respectively. An aurora forms when the sun’s ions advance to the Earth’s atmosphere in a river of electrically charged haze and connects with our magnetic field. A few of the ions that came from the sun can be caught in the ionosphere, which is a portion of the atmosphere that extends about three hundred miles into space and begins at an altitude of roughly thirty miles. Once these ions are confined in our ionosphere, they can begin to pass each other in a file formation to induce a glowing property. The movement you might see in an aurora is attributed by the way both the Earth and Sun’s ions interrelate with one another. This relation causes a wave-like light anomaly that when close enough, can disturb electronic communication and compasses due to the vicinity of the magnetic field.
The colors you might see while an aurora is present can tell you not only what’s in the air inside the lights, but also how big the aurora itself is. For example, blue and violet lights are seen at lower altitudes of about fifty miles where the oxygen is dense and responding to the presence of nitrogen, more commonly seen at the bottom of an aurora, while reds are rarely seen because of their location at the height of an aurora, generally placing its present altitude at over one hundred and forty miles. Green is the color most often seen in these lights due to the ease of the eye’s ability to detect it, and is found where there is a large assemblage of oxygen available. It is primarily the above colors that you will see in the lights, however pinks and yellows can sometimes be spotted because of the aforementioned light waves overlapping and sharing the same space in the aurora.
As an adult, I’ve often thought about taking a summer off to go camping again to see if I’ll find the northern lights one night. It’s something I have a fond memory of doing, and I wonder if my experience will be the same as it was back then. I might even try to plan a trip to see the southern lights, just so I can say I’ve seen them both. Regardless of where they are though, the auroras are still breathtaking to behold. They illuminate the sky with their beauty and put in perspective how small we are and how amazing nature can really be. It can be good, healthy even, to take a break from all the work we do every day and spend some time outdoors. Life happens when you’re busy, but be sure to stop and see the lights along the way.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog! If you’d like to know where I got some of my information, I’ve included the links below!
Information obtained and used in this blog were from the following sites:
English Dictionary- Offline App via Google Play Store, Search: Ionosphere
Special thank you to my amazing husband for proof reading my work as always! Thank you hun!