Nature's Waterfall Of Colors


Country Moon'Tis the season of lights. At no other time of year can we drive through city and country alike and feel the warmth that lights add to our lives.

No matter how awesome our light displays are though, nothing can compare with one of the most amazing shows nature has to offer; the Aurora Borealis, or more commonly referred to as the Northern Lights. It is literally a shifting waterfall of colors ranging from green to pink to white and everything in between.

The word “aurora” means polar light and these light shows can be seen around both the North Pole and South Pole. The word Aurora comes from the Greek goddess of dawn and Borealis is the Greek name for wind.

What exactly are the Northern Lights? Here goes the technical explanation. Charged particles from the magnetosphere collide with atoms in the earth’s upper atmosphere and absorb extra energy that is expressed as light. As the sun causes hydrogen and helium to fuse, protons and electrons are shot into space. This is known as solar wind and it blows past the earth.  The earth’s lines of magnetism draw the particles toward the north and south magnetic poles where the lines converge. They arrive in the ionosphere, collide with gas atoms and emit light. The color of the light they emit depends on the type of gas particles with which they come into contact. Without being a science major, this is about as clear as mud so I just prefer to think of the Northern Lights as magical.

For ages people have chosen to look on them as just that, magical. To this day they are steeped in folklore. One myth tells us the lights are our past ancestors. Another one believes the lights tell stories of what happened in the past and what will happen in the future. The Cree Indians called them the “dance of the spirits.”

Some of the other interpretations are equally colorful. The Scots called them heavenly dancers or merry dancers and believed they were supernatural beings warring in the heavens over a beautiful woman. Isn’t it always!

12/27/2015 8:40:19 AM

Lois, Nebraska does on occasion, when the scientific atmosphere is right, have an Aurora Borealis display in the sky. I have not witnessed them but it usually makes the news when such a light in the sky arrives. I live in a residential area of a major city so would have to get away from the ground clutter lights before I could really see anything in the night sky. I've seen videos but I'm sure they don't really do the lights justice. Taking pictures and videos of nature and actually being immersed in nature are very different things, don't you think? ***** Have a great Aurora Borealis viewing day.

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