Northern Lights Did You Know?

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Northern lights … not your typical midnight sky pollution. The bright sprawling lights of the aurora across a dark sky are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. The lights are seen above the sources of magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as ‘Aurora borealis’ in the north and ‘Aurora australis’ in the south, so there are northern lights and southern lights. As you might imagine, they are easiest to see from areas closer to the north and south poles, but once in a while they are predicted in our northwestern states.

Auroral colors can vary, but pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. The lights appear in many styles including arcs, vertical light curtains or long rays of light belts that glow in the darkness.

The Menominee Indians in the mid west believed that the lights were the presence of the spirits of great hunters and fishermen. The Inuit of Alaska believed that the lights were the spirits of the animals they hunted. Other aboriginal peoples believed that the lights were the spirits of their people.

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