The Beautiful Aurora Borealis Lights Charge Up the Night Skies

by John Crim, age 13

Often at the North and South Poles of the Earth, colorful light emerges from the sky and dances with the stars. This light is what we know to be auroras.

These streams of light have different names. Close to the North Pole the stream is called Aurora Borealis and close to the South Pole it is called Aurora Australis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora.
Auroras occur when electric charges flowing from the sun called solar winds, burst out and merge with the Earth’s magnetic field. Flares from the sun send extra energy with the charges of particles. When they crash into the Earth’s magnetic field, they collide with other particles and gain energy in the upper atmosphere, energizing it like a battery. These surges lose their energy in the form of light. Different spectrums of light correspond to the release of different amounts of energy.

Most of the time, you can only see auroras near the North and South Poles but sometimes you can see them as far as Texas.

Auroras can sometimes be wavy, while other times they’re simply a stream of light. This effect along with the color difference can be caused by how much excess energy is coming from the sun.

After reading about these beams of colorful lights, I’ve been amazed at the information I have found on them. Someday I would like to travel to the North or South Pole to see this magnificent lighting effect in action.

[Source: National Audubon society First Field Guide: Night Sky]