The United States National Park Service (NPS) shared images of the Aurora Borealis lighting up the sky above Denali, North America’s highest mountain peak. In the caption, the federal agency also gave a thorough description of the auroras.
Referencing a famous Simpsons joke, the NPS wrote, “Aurora Borealis!? At this time of year, at this hour, in this part of the country, completely localized in your kitchen!? – Super Nintendo Chalmers”.
“Denali is a great location to view the aurora because it is at a far northern latitude and because there is very little light pollution. Light pollution is found in towns, cities and other developed areas where excessive artificial light illuminates the natural environment,” said the desk.
“The most common color in the Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, is green. When the solar wind hits millions of oxygen atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere at the same time, the oxygen atoms are excited for a while and then they decay back to their original state, when they reach the green giving off hue that we can see from the ground,” they added.
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What exactly is an aurora and what causes it?
According to NASA, if you’re ever near the North or South Pole, you may be in for a very special treat. There are regularly beautiful light shows in the sky. These lights are called auroras. If you’re near the North Pole, it’s called an aurora borealis, or northern lights. If you’re near the South Pole, it’s called an aurora australis or the southern lights.
Auroras are actually caused by the sun. The sun sends us more than heat and light; it sends a lot of other energy and small particles our way. The protective magnetic field around the Earth shields us from most energy and particles, and we don’t even notice them.
But the sun does not always emit the same amount of energy. There is a constant flow of solar wind and there are also solar storms. During a type of solar storm called a coronal mass ejection, the sun blows out a huge bubble of electrified gas that can travel through space at high speeds.
When a solar storm approaches us, some of the energy and small particles can travel along the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles to Earth’s atmosphere. There, the particles interact with gases in our atmosphere, resulting in beautiful light shows in the sky. Oxygen gives off green and red light. Nitrogen glows blue and purple.
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