Though Alaska’s Northern Lights are some of the most beautiful natural occurrences in the universe, relatively few people have observed their beauty, and even less understand how and why they appear.
People can see the auroral lights above the magnetic poles in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Known as the aurora borealis in the North, and the aurora australis in the South.
These beautiful lights are created when ions, or charged particles, interact with solar winds.
More specifically, these aurora-creating collisions occur when free electrons and protons escape through holes in the sun’s magnetic field and travel to the earth’s atmosphere.
While the earth’s magnetic field deflects most of the charged particles, this field is weakest at the Earth’s poles, allowing some particles to enter and collide with gas particles, hence creating the mystical glowing lights we see in the sky.
The lights may appear in many forms, ranging from scattered clouds of color to wispy patches or shooting rays of light that illuminate the night sky with an unreal glow.
Variations in the Northern Lights’ colors are caused by different types of gas particles colliding. For instance, high-altitude oxygen collisions produce red lights.