A recent conversation with a friend about the northern lights got me wondering when the best chance of seeing them without having to travel far north or travel too far out of Ottawa would be, as I haven’t had the chance to see them myself yet. My understanding of aurora borealis was very minimal, but after reading this article I have expanded my knowledge of how they work, when they occur, and the time to look out for them.
Auroras are caused by the collision between electrically charged particles from the sun as they enter the earth’s atmosphere. The colors differ depending on the altitude of the collisions. For example, I learned that the most common light display is a yellow-green display coming from oxygen molecules about eighty kilometers above the earth. Whereas the most rare auroras are produced over three hundred and twenty kilometers above the earth, and come from nitrogen emissions. This read also explains why auroras are most visible in the north and south poles and how they take their winding shapes due to magnetic fields. This article shares a few interesting legends of the northern lights. These legends were derived from people around the world such as North Americans, Europeans, The Menominee Indians, and The Maori of New Zealand.
I recommend this article to those like myself who never chose the northern lights as a project topic in elementary school or haven’t yet taken the time to read about them.
Brown, Dave. "The Northern Lights Are What I Long To See." Ottawa Outdoors. N.p., 2012. Web. 15 Nov. 2012. <http://ottawaoutdoors.ca/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=405%3Athe-northern-lights-are-what-i-long-to-see&catid=35%3Aadventure-articles&Itemid=62>.