Fri 31 Oct, 2003 08:52 am
My son and I saw the most beautiful light show in the sky last night. We were driving back from the mall on a long country road of open farm land when we saw the colors in the sky. I pulled over, we both got out of the car and we were in awe as we looked up in the sky and saw the most beatiful lights we've ever seen. Did anyone else see this?
I wasn't expecting it, so no, no camera :-(
It was absolutly amazing. At first I thought we were seeing the northern lights and then I remembered the solar flares. That's a sight I'll never forget.
They actually are the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.
You are getting them that far South because of the impact on the magnetosphere that the coronal mass ejection from the Sun is having.
Basically the Sun has spat out a massive glob of charged particles and after travelling the 92.8 million miles across space to the Earth they start messing with the Earth's magnetic field.
Normally the amount of magnetic and electrical activity in the Earth's magnetosphere is pretty small and so you only get the aurora close to the north and south poles.
There's a great deal more activity at the moment because the Sun is having a bit of a tantrum so the aurora become visible further south.
What is happening is that the charged particles released by the Sun are travelling very quickly and when they reach the Earth they get funneled down towards the pole by our magnetic field. When this happens they release energy (the mechanism is a bit windy so I'm not going to go into the physical details) and cause the glowing, shifting sheets of light in the sky.
The south pole gets aurora too, called the Aurora Australis.
I read that we would be able to see them (northern lights). Haven't seen them yet but hoping to...they can be so beautiful.
Montana you are much farther north than I am. I'll have to take a trip out of the city in hopes of getting a good look.
Considering the amount of solar activity we're getting I reckon that they may be visible down to 40 degrees.
Ok, so that's what causes the northern lights. Thanks for the explaination Heliotrope. I have never seen the sky look so beautiful. I've always wanted to see the northern lights and this was the most fantastic light show I've ever seen.
Thanks Heliotrope...I never new there were southern lights called Aurora Australis.
No probs dudes.
Happy to help.