There are many events of beauty in this world, all around us. One that is commonly known and sought out is the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights.
Most of the time, one would have to go north to Alaska or Canada to consider seeing them. However, they have recently been visible here in Colorado. How is this possible?
To understand this, one first must understand what it is and what causes it.
Named after the Roman goddess of dawn Aurora and the Roman god of the north wind Boreas, the Aurora Borealis is a frequent event in Earth’s magnetosphere that is commonly described as ribbons of crimson and green light dancing across the night sky. As the website EarthSky explains, “Great storms on the sun send gusts of charged solar particles hurtling across space. If Earth is in the path of the particle stream, our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere react.” When this reaction happens to molecules in the atmosphere, light is released, creating the Northern Lights.
Recently, major gusts of particles and thus a major geomagnetic storm have caused the Aurora Borealis to be intensely strong, making it visible farther south than the usual Alaska and Canada.
In fact, on Monday, June 21, the Aurora Borealis was so strong that it could be seen, according to 9News, in all four corners of the state. While in some states the event was forecasted to be seen throughout that same week, Monday was the best night for astronomy enthusiasts in Colorado to witness the Aurora Borealis.
Even if you did not get the opportunity to witness this phenomenon, there are ways to learn when it will be visible again, such Boulder’s Space Weather Prediction Center (http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/phenomena/aurora) and other Aurora Borealis tracking sites.
The Northern Lights are truly spectacular, so make sure you do not miss out on them next time!