The Fascinating Aurora Lights

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The astronomy picture of the day I chose to write this paper on was posted on March 24, 2014. The picture is of Orion and Aurora over Iceland. I was drawn to this image because my first glimpse of this fascination occurred while viewing a video of this image in my 12th grade physics class. I thought the video was cool and the colors of the aurora was an amazing sight. At the time I didn’t have to research the anything about the video but I was intrigued about it. The image is credited to Thorvardur Árnason, but there was a similar image posted two years ago by photographer Daniel Lopez. In the center of the picture lies the stratovolcano Öræfajökull. The snow covered volcano is located in east Iceland. The constellation of Orion is located to the left of the bright lights. Aurora is a Latin word for “sunrise”. There is also is a name of a Roman goddess of dawn. The name for auroras are different depending on the location in which it is seen. When the lights are present in the northern latitudes, the display is known as aurora borealis (or the northern lights). Aurora that are seen in the southern hemisphere is known as aurora australis (or the southern lights). The lights are very similar and go through similar changes. An aurora is a natural light display in the sky caused by the collision of solar wind and the charged particles with the high altitude atmosphere contained in the magnetosphere. Most auroras occur near the earth’s magnetic poles. According to Harald U. Frey from UC Berkley, “aurora is the result of the interaction between precipitating energetic electrons and protons with the upper atmosphere”. There are two forms that auroras are known to take, discreet and diffuse auroras. Diffuse auroras contain a no charac... ... middle of paper ... ...cannot be seen and must be captured through highly sensitive cameras. The color that are displayed in an aurora depends on the gas that it was emitted from and its altitude. The most common colors are red and green but the most delightful auroras contain blues and pinks. Works Cited Frey, H. U. (2007). "Localized aurora beyond the auroral oval". Rev. Geophys. 45: RG1003. , doi:10.1029/2005RG000174. Stewart, Balfour. On the Great Magnetic Disturbance Which Extended from August 28 to September 7, 1859, as Recorded by Photography at the Kew Observatory. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Vol. 151, (1861), pp. 423-430. Auroa Australis; Magnificent Display on Friday Morning Mr. Merlam's Opinions on the Bareul Light—One of his Friends Finds a Place of the Aurora on his Lion-corp. The Aurural Display in Boston. New York Times. September 3, 1859.

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