“You cannot rob me of free nature’s grace,
You cannot shut the windows of the sky
Through which Aurora shows her brightening face.” -James Thomson

The northern (aurora borealis) and southern (aurora australis) lights are caused by a combination of three phenomena on our world, that make our aurorae unique among all worlds in our solar system:

  1. Outbursts from the Sun that can go in any direction,
  2. Our magnetic field, that funnels charged particles into circles around the poles,
  3. And our atmospheric composition, that causes the colors and the displays we see.
Image credit: flickr user Image Editor, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/11304375@N07/2844511020/, under a c.c.-by-s.a.-2.0 generic license.

Image credit: flickr user Image Editor, via https://www.flickr.com/photos/11304375@N07/2844511020/, under a c.c.-by-s.a.-2.0 generic license.

Put all of these together and add in a 4k camera aboard the ISS, and you’ve got an outstanding recipe for the greatest aurora video ever composed.

Image credit: NASA/International Space Station.

Image credit: NASA/International Space Station.

Here’s the in-depth science behind it, too, only from me and Starts With A Bang!

Comments

  1. #1 PJ
    Perth, west Oz
    April 21, 2016

    Having seen Borealis for many years out of Toronto, I appreciated the lights whilst living there. Thanks for the aerials; just a different and pleasant visual – brings back the memories.

  2. #2 Edgar
    United States
    April 30, 2016

    I remember seeing the first images caught by a new, super sensitive video camera which was (finally) sensitive enough to capture the Aurora, blurrily, on magnetic tape instead of film. These are amazing, I want to see more, from higher up!

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