The lights glow a bright red, then turn into streaky green ribbons and then dark blue merging with the night sky. What do you suppose I am talking about? Decorative Diwali lights in the neighborhood?
No, not at all. I am referring to the ‘Northern Lights’ or the ‘Aurora Borealis’. It is a natural display of lights that happens near the North Pole. It is the most brilliant light show on earth that you will see, ever.
Some say it looks like stars raining down from the sky. Curtains of lights dance like streamers high above your head. Colours shift slowly but surely. It can turn from yellow-green to blood-red to royal blue or even purple within minutes. The bands of lights appear to be constantly flowing as if the wind is fluttering a huge flag all the way up there.
It may sound like a rainbow, but unlike a rainbow, the Aurora does not need rain to occur. They happen all through the year. Though, you are most likely to spot them only on a dark night. That is why they are usually associated with winter nights when it is the darkest. If you ever happen to be in Alaska or northern Norway between September and April, maybe you can witness this jaw dropping sight all for yourself.
Look at this wonderful video of northern lights dancing.
Did you know?
1. Auroras happen on other planets like Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus as well.
2. Auroras occur about 60-70 miles above earth, i.e. about 10 miles higher than a jet aircraft flies.
3. Aurora Borealis is named after Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn and Boreas, the Greek word for north wind.
4. Similar show of lights happens near the South Pole as well and is called the Aurora Australis.