Aurora Borealis: Northern Lights Put On Best Show in 10 Years

Friday, 15 Nov 2013 10:55 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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An Aurora borealis, also known as Northern Lights, appeared when electrical particles from the sun entered the Earth's atmosphere for a spectacular natural light display in the sky. Experts say it was the most impressive display in 10 years.

The Aurora borealis occurs near the equinoxes. Space.com reported that the sun has been firing off several X-class solar flares, the most powerful kind, in recent weeks. On Nov. 5, the sun released its strongest X3.3 flare of the year.

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"As predicted, the northern lights season has got off to a spectacular start," wrote Adrian Bridge, of The Telegraph. "There have already been reports of dramatic sightings stretching across the skies in the far northern reaches of the globe – and even stronger displays are on the way. 

"According to NASA scientists, the current period of solar maximum activity – which is governed by an 11-year cycle – will reach a new peak next month, affording travelers the best possible conditions for seeing the northern lights for more than a decade," Bridge added.

Videographer Chad Blakley told Space.com said the lights can be seen from the Abisko National Park inside the Arctic Circle in Sweden.



"The auroras started almost immediately after the sun went down and danced overhead all night long," Blakley said. "It amazes me to think that the lights have been dancing over teepees in Lapland for thousands of years. . . . The solar maximum continues to impress."

The Aurora borealis, which is called Aurora australis in the south, appears in numerous colors but pale green and pink are the most common. The lights can also include shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet.

The Aurora borealis has long been part of folklore. The Roman mythology god Aurora was named because of the sky. The aurora occurrences of auroral displays were seen as harbingers of war or famine in medieval times.

Others, like the Maori of New Zealand, believed the lights were reflections from torches or campfires.

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