On this day…

On this day…

The first recorded sighting of the aurora borealis took place in New England on December 11, 1719. While the aurora borealis had been observed much, much earlier than 1719 by the native peoples in Canada and Alaska, it was a new and unexplained phenomenon for the English settlers in New England. The New Englanders described what looked to be a mysterious face staring back at them from the sky. Instead of being in awe of this spectacle, the people of New England responded with fear and alarm, as they believed it was a sign that the Judgment Day would soon arrive.

The aurora borealis (the Northern Lights) and the aurora australis (the Southern Lights) are natural light displays that occur around the north and south magnetic poles. The auroras are caused by the collision of highly charged particles from solar winds with the Earth’s atmosphere. The energy from the collisions of millions of these particles with atmospheric gas is released as photons (particles of light). This interaction causes the particles to glow. The different colors of the aurorae are caused by the interaction with different gases at different altitudes.

Auroras are typically brightest whenever there are sunspots on the sun. These dark spots are a sign of solar magnetic storms that result in an increase in the charged particles being emitted from the sun.

For more information on the aurora borealis and aurora australis, check out Earth’s Aurora, The Northern Lights: Aurora Borealis, and more at Discoveryeducation.com!!!