The Northern Lights

The Northern Lights
Northern Lights in Tromso Norway. Source: Unsplash 

Did you know, the 'northern lights' are caused by the sun?

When particles are emitted by the sun and strike atoms in the earth’s atmosphere, these atoms light up, producing the beautiful colors you can see in the aurora borealis.  The magnetic force of the north (and south!) pole adds to the effect and ultimately this means an awesome light show at night in the far northern hemisphere!

Historically, Finnish people believed that the northern lights were caused by the firefox, a creature who ran so quickly across the snow that his paws kicked up sparks into the night sky.  The Finnish word for the northern lights is “revontulet,” which translates as “fox fires.”

The best time to see the northern lights is from November through to February when the skies are the darkest, and evenings the longest.  The strongest lights appear between 9pm and 2am, though the best sightings often occur between 11pm and midnight.

The northern lights are a popular tourist attraction with many sky gazers 'wowed' by the spectacular light show.

The southern lights are less known, largely because the south pole is harder to access, however recently the southern lights have been visible from as far north as Tasmania!  This 'Aurora Australis' is caused by weather conditions including sun spots and turbulent solar winds - they are unpredictable at best!

The southern lights from Tasmania

If you've ever seen anything like this, we'd love to hear from you!