Aurora Borealis

The northern lights or Aurora Borealis put on an enchanting and wondrous display of dancing lights for those lucky enough to see them. Named after the Roman goddess of dawn Aurora and the Greek name for the wind of the north or Boreas, these lights are most prominent during the winter with low levels of light pollution and clear, crisp air. The auroras can appear in many forms from small patches of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky.

These light shows are caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen and are most prominent around the magnetic poles where the earth’s magnetic field is weaker. They are most often associated with the colours pink, green, yellow, blue and violet.

The best vantage points for the northern lights are places near the northern magnetic pole such as Canada and Alaska. The Aurora Borealis has a southern but less well known equivalent called Aurora Australis. The Aurora Australis is more likely to be seen around the Antarctic although it is commonly sighted in Tasmania too.