Colors In Nature: Aurora

Colors In Nature: Aurora

There is at least one thing to be said about living in colder climates, and that would be being able to experience, first hand, one of the color wonders of the world, aurora.

Aurora originates from the sun. Large amounts of solar particles are thrown into space and travel for about two to three days at a rate of 300 to 1000 kilometers per second in order to reach earth's outer magnetic field. At this point, the clouds of particles are pulled towards the northern and southern magnetic poles. As they are being pulled towards the poles they are stopped by our atmosphere colliding with other present particles. The interaction of these particles causes what we know as aurora, the northern lights or aurora borleis in the northern hemisphere, and aurora australis or the southern polar lights in the southern hemisphere.

Photos by Arnar Valdimarsson

The colors created by aurora are most commonly, green and red, but depending on the particles present in the clouds from the sun, say if there is nitrogen present, the color can range from low level reds to very high blues and violets.

With the technological advances of film and development of digital imaging we are now able to capture the true beauty of auroras, but it still nothing compared to witnessing the animated currents of color flowing over the horizons and covering landscapes with illuminating waves of light for yourself. So enjoy these stunning images of this magnificent show and give some thought to taking a cold vacation this year.

Photo by natekoechley

About Aurora

Auroras are produced by the collision of charged particles from Earth's magnetosphere, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, with atoms and molecules of Earth's upper atmosphere (at altitudes above 80 km). The particles have energies of 1 to 100 keV. Most originate from the Sun and arrive at the vicinity of Earth in the relatively low-energy solar wind. When the trapped magnetic field of the solar wind is favorably oriented (principally southwards) it reconnects with Earth's magnetic field, and solar particles enter the magnetosphere and are swept to the magnetotail. Further magnetic reconnection accelerates the particles towards Earth.

Photo by orvaratli

The collisions in the atmosphere electronically excite atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere. The excitation energy can be lost by light emission or collisions. Most aurorae are green and red emission from atomic oxygen. Molecular nitrogen and nitrogen ions produce some low level red and very high blue/violet aurorae.
- Wikipedia:Aurora

Photo by localsurfer

First Records

Although it was first mentioned by Ancient Greek explorer/geographer Pytheas, Hiorter and Celsius first described in 1741 evidence for magnetic control, namely, large magnetic fluctuations occurred whenever the aurora was observed overhead.

Photo by piglicker

Historical Sightings

The auroras which occurred as a result of the "great geomagnetic storm" on both August 28, 1859 and September 2, 1859 are thought to be perhaps the most spectacular ever witnessed throughout recent recorded history. The latter, which occurred on September 2, 1859 as a result of the exceptionally intense Carrington-Hodgson white light solar flare on September 1, 1859 produced aurora so widespread and extraordinarily brilliant that they were seen and reported in published scientific measurements, ship's logs and newspapers throughout the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia. It was said in the New York Times that "ordinary print could be read by the light [of the aurora]".

Photo from Wikipedia

The aurora is thought to have been produced by one of the most intense coronal mass ejections in history, very near the maximum intensity that the Sun is thought to be capable of producing. It is also notable for the fact that it is the first time where the phenomena of auroral activity and electricity were unambiguously linked. This insight was made possible not only due to scientific magnetometer measurements of the era but also as a result of a significant portion of the 125,000 miles of telegraph lines then in service being significantly disrupted for many hours throughout the storm.

Photos by Arnar Valdimarsson

Some telegraph lines however, seem to have been of the appropriate length and orientation which allowed a current (geomagnetically induced current) to be induced in them (due to Earth's severely fluctuating magnetosphere) and actually used for communication. The following conversation occurred between two operators of the American Telegraph Line between Boston and Portland, Maine, on the night of September 2, 1859 and reported in the Boston Traveler:

Photo by michael_karrer

Boston operator (to Portland operator): "Please cut off your battery [power source] entirely for fifteen minutes."
Portland operator: "Will do so. It is now disconnected."
Boston: "Mine is disconnected, and we are working with the auroral current. How do you receive my writing?"
Portland: "Better than with our batteries on. - Current comes and goes gradually."
Boston: "My current is very strong at times, and we can work better without the batteries, as the aurora seems to neutralize and augment our batteries alternately, making current too strong at times for our relay magnets. Suppose we work without batteries while we are affected by this trouble."
Portland: "Very well. Shall I go ahead with business?"
Boston: "Yes. Go ahead."

Photo by lit_foto

The conversation was carried on for around two hours using no battery power at all and working solely with the current induced by the aurora, and it was said that this was the first time on record that more than a word or two was transmitted in such manner.
- Wikipedia:Aurora

More Photos

Photo from Wikipedia

Photo by nickrussill

Photo by lit_foto

Photo by lit_foto

Photo by bigfezr

Photo by deivis

Photo by orvaratli

Photo by orvaratli

Photo by orvaratli

Photos by Photo by JakeVP and orvaratli

Photo by pandiyan

Photo from Wikipedia

Title Photo by Image Editor

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Showing 1 - 21 of 21 Comments
Gorgeous images!!!!

Aurora Aura
they are so beautiful! I saw one last year where i live :)
i am jealous of all this beauty
I love this so much!
it was aurora that inspired my first palette
aurora borealis
Wow! Awesome photos. I've gotten to see them twice and it was an amazing experience both times. I hope to see them again some day.
Wow... Just... Wow....

I wish I could be able to experience this. Hopefully someday.
It sounds cheesy, but those photos are literally breathtaking!!! I would love to witness this someday.
To witness first hand this display is on my list of things to do before I die, or go blind or something like that.
Anyone want to come with me?
I got lucky enough to see the Northern lights a few years ago. However, they were not as vibrant as these pictures truly something amazing to see none the less.
Colors of the Aurora are so amazing. And so are these photos!!!
Purple in the AuroraTechnicolor Aurora
Aurora One
Aurora Deux
wow so beautiful
Growing up in northern Minnesota, I got to see Northern Lights quite frequently. However, one instance I remember well was when I moved back for a couple of years in the early '70s. I was returning from work at about 2 am (I was a waitress in a bar) and had to stop the car and just stand there in awe. Pink and purple curtains rippled across the entire sky, rather than appearing just in the north. I remember feeling so small and insignificant.
these photos are really stunning, i hope to see the lights one day, they appear rarely in the sky here but i'm always somewhere i cant see them!!

thanks for this post!
small picture, with link to very large one, and narrative
No such thing near the equator. One day I will be where they are!
Wow... AMAZING. nice and natural palattes ever :)
عادت بنظرها اليه وقالت ياليت الذي مضى يعود انه رسم المكان خرجا وكانهما اثنان وهي تحدث نفسها في نظر اي ناظر اليها اما هي فكانت تتحدث وتنظر الى سماء السمال اللامعة بموجات الكهرباء التى اعطت اللوان غايتا في الروعة كانت تراها في شاشة الهاتف وقالت له هل ترى مااراه قال لها ارى ماانت فيه وارى الزمن الذي عشته هل تحاولين ان تلفتي الانتباه اليك قالت ان الذي تقوله ليس في حساب اي احدهل تضن اني مجهولة من اهل المكان

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