Aurora is the beautiful natural phenomenon that has enchanted mankind with mysterious movements, surreal shapes, and vivid colors dancing across the night sky. People travel for thousands of miles to see the spectacular aurora light shows in the Earth’s atmosphere. The breathtaking color displays of the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights, as well as Aurora Australis, AKA the Southern Lights, appear on clear, cold nights in the arctic sky during periods of solar activity. Here are 47 auroral curtains to delight your senses without costing a fortune for the journey or enduring the harsh polar coldness.
5 Types of Auroras
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Aural forms can be split into a minimum of five different categories: active aurora, corona, homogeneous arc, rising vapor column, and rayed arc. The active aurora (bottom left) can appear like folds from 10 to 100 miles wide as they swirl and move. Corona auroras (middle left) look like rays that shoot out in all different directions from a single point. Homogeneous arcs (bottom right) are the least active form of aura and tend to look like diffuse glowing streaks in the sky. Rising vapor column auroras (middle right) are an illusion that appear to touch a distant landmark and rise like smoke. Rayed arcs (top) look like vertical stripes, fine pleats in the auroral curtain.
Auroras can appear in many shapes and colors
Auroras come in many different shapes and colors. The brilliant dancing lights happen when charged electrons from the solar wind collide with elements in the Earth’s atmosphere. These geomagnetic disturbances create a fascinating phenomenon called substorms. As the charged particles bump around in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, they mix with atoms of nitrogen and oxygen. Glorious colors from the aurora depend upon the altitude and what atom is struck.
Auroras come in all differing shades of a night rainbow. When molecules and atoms of the upper atmosphere collide, struck by high-energy electrons, they produce differing colors in auroral forms. Oxygen atoms produce brownish-red and green light. Nitrogen can appear like bluish light and sometimes as almost pink in coloring. Helium can look like purple light. Neon can give off an orangish flare with rippled edges. Activity of solar winds also plays a part of the colors and intensity of auroras.
The Aurora Borealis is centered around the geomagnetic North Pole. Green is the most common coloring for the gorgeous natural auroral formations. The green colorings are produced from oxygen and happen up to 150 miles in altitude. Also the middle of auroral curtain is greenish-white. The green tinted snaky bands and the shifting curtain seem to be painted across a large extent of the northern sky on clear, frigid nights. These breathtaking formations in the polar sky are highly influenced during periods of solar activity.
Aurora Curtain – Shades of Red
The atmosphere at high altitudes contains a greater percentage of atomic oxygen. This very thin atmosphere allows the atoms ample opportunity to emit red light. The red coming from oxygen happens up to 150 miles in altitude, but nitrogen can also give us reddish shades in the aurora curtain. The highest part of the auroral curtain is red, while the lower edge is pink. Exquisite red auroras, happening over 124 miles up, are rare gifts to mankind.
The auroras twisting and shading the arctic sky during periods of strong geometric storms release varying amounts energy and light. Oxygen can take about a second to emit energy as green light, but up to two minutes to produce red light. These colors mix at moderate altitudes; red and green combined make yellow. Around 37 miles up in the atmosphere is where the common bright yellow-green colorations form.
Beautiful Blue Auroras
Aurora Borealis most often happens from September to October and from March to April. Beautiful blue auroras are mostly a product of ionized nitrogen molecules and happen about 60 miles up in the frigid altitude. Sometimes they seem to dance around with grace and speed, covering almost all of the night sky. The blues can appear in any and all shapes like a rayed arc in the top picture and the active aurora in the bottom picture.
The aurora is made up of blue, green, and red light. However when these color mix, an aquamarine coloring is displayed as the natural light phenomenon. These color variances are due to the nature of the atmosphere at these different altitudes and the way oxygen emits light. Six different types of auroras are featured above in shades of aquamarine.
Plethora of Purple Auroras
The purples are emitted from nitrogen colliding in an ancient dance above 60 miles in altitude. At the lower edge of the auroral curtain, the density of molecules does not permit oxygen to emit light; therefore a purplish-pink color comes from a combination of red and blue in the geomagnetic substorms that are fired by high levels of energy flaring Earthward.