The last week or two conditions have been wonderful for the strongest aurora borealises (borealisi?)… northern lights seen for five years. The solar storms will continue this week, lighting up our northern skies with shimmering, dancing colours.
Remember that Aurora Watch, a web site run by the University of Alberta, is always monitering geomagnetic activity to give you a heads up as to when you should don your parka and wander out into the night to look for the elusive aurora. You can even sign up to receive an email notice of yellow and red alerts. Albertan photographers often post incredible pictures after a good showing, as well as links to their own sites. It’s well-worth the time to check in once in a while.
Did you know that the most common green colour of the northern lights is caused by oxygen molecules colliding 60 miles above the earth? The awesome, all red auroras are produced by oxygen molecules colliding at much higher altitudes. It is nitrogen collisions that produce the blue or violet tinges.
P.S. The correct plural of aurora borealis is aurorae borealis. Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn, borealis means northern. So you can have more than one appearance of the goddess, but she’s still up here in the one and only great white north.