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Naked-Eye Observing - Aurora

Aurora Borealis:

The Earth is surrounded by a magnetic field which emanates from the poles of the Earth. Charged particles from the solar wind is pushed away from the Earth by this magnetic field, but sometimes the particles interact with the magnetic field near the poles.

These particles easily interact with the Earth's ionosphere resulting in a aurora of charged particles.

An aurora are the result of charged particles of the solar wind interacting with the Earth's upper atmosphere - the ionosphere. This is a still image, but there will be movement like a curtain in the wind when viewed directly.

The name Aurora Borealis simply means aurora near the north pole. It is worth noting that the aurora is completely safe. I have yet to see an aurora in person, but that is definitely on my list! To predict an aurora, one simply monitors surface activity on the Sun. During the big solar flare events last year, aurora activity was markedly increased.

The Space Environment Center has a website that tracks the aurora. It's worth a look.

Aurora Australiais:

Aurora Australiais is identical to Aurora Borealis, only that it occurs at the south pole.


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