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Aurora

Aurora (Space)

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Auroras, sometimes called the northern and southern (polar) lights or aurorae (singular: Aurora), are natural light displays in the sky, usually observed at night, particularly in the polar regions. They typically occur in the ionosphere. They are also referred to as polar auroras. In northern latitudes, the effect is known as the Aurora borealis, named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas, by Pierre Gassendi in 1621 (398 years ago). The Aurora borealis is also called the northern polar lights, as it is only visible in the sky from the Northern Hemisphere, the chance of visibility increasing with proximity to the North Magnetic Pole, which is currently in the arctic islands of northern Canada. Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from further away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the sun were rising from an unusual direction. The Aurora borealis most often occurs near the equinoxes; from sep. to Oct. and from Mar. to April. The northern lights have had a number of names throughout history. The Cree people call this phenomenon the "Dance of the Spirits." In the middle age the auroras has been called by sign of God (see Wilfried Schröder, Das Phänomen des Polarlichts, Darmstadt 1984 (35 years ago)). Auroras can be spotted throughout the world. It is most visible closer to the poles due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field.

Its southern counterpart, the Aurora australis or the southern polar lights, has similar properties, but is only visible from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, South America, or Australasia. Australis is the Latin word for "of the South."


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