Scientific Explanation of the Aurorae

Our modern scientific explanation for the aurorae start with particles coming from the Sun, encountering the Earth’s magnetic field, and then entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Let’s take those three parts one at a time.

Explanation of the Aurorae: The Sun

VISUAL 9 (still): Sun A key player in the origin of these lights in our Earth’s sky is the Sun, a huge ball of gas converting enormous amounts of energy in its core by a nuclear reaction. It is like millions of nuclear bombs going off every second. Only a very small portion of this […]

Explanation of the Aurorae: The Earth’s Magnetic Field

The solar wind particles carry magnetism along with the solar wind. When the solar wind reaches the Earth the wind particles do not simply bump into our planet. The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field. It is like a bar magnet with the poles of the magnet near the Earth’s north and south poles. […]

Explanation of the Aurorae: In the Atmosphere

VISUAL 19 (still): Satellite View of Aurorae [Fade on an image of aurora as seen from space. In collisions between the electrons which come from the Earth’s magnetotail and the atoms in the atmosphere, the electrons give their energy to these atoms and make them glow.] This light, as seen by a satellite, hangs like […]