Aurora

Aurora
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Aurora

One of nature’s most spectacular displays is the Aurora, a light display seen in high latitude regions and ranges from 80 km to 500 km above the Earth’s surface. Usually seen near the north (borealis) or south (australis) poles at night, this light display is also known as the Northern Lights and Southern Lights, respectively. The colorful light show is caused by electrons interacting with the Earth’s magnetic field. The magnetic field pulls energized electrons to the polar regions where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. These collisions further energize the atoms and molecules, releasing light when they relax to lower energy states. The aurora can be seen at lower latitude regions when space weather activity increases, extending the aurora equatorward.

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