The Universe celebrates St. Patrick’s Day (Synopsis)

“‘You are a different kind of Irishman, Goll,’ was all she said.
‘Every Irishman is a different kind of Irishman,’ said Goll.” -
Charles Brady

Sure, we're all a little bit Irish today. We celebrate in a plethora of different ways, the most common of which is to prominently display the color most associated with Ireland: green.

But did you know that not only is the planet Earth on track to celebrate St. Paddy's day in style with a spectacular auroral display, but that even though there's no such thing as a green star, our Sun someday might turn green anyway?

Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope / ESO VLT, of planetary nebula IC 1295. Image credit: European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope / ESO VLT, of planetary nebula IC 1295.

Come learn about how the Universe celebrates St. Paddy's Day today!


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Had to get to work at 4 am so missed this show although it was visible on my location at 55 degrees around 2300. Bummer

By Josef Nedstam (not verified) on 17 Mar 2015 #permalink

The structure of the aurora has always puzzled me.
Why it manifests sharply delfined at the bottom, and vertically fades with altitude.
I presume an atmospheric layer or boundary defines the bottom edge, and fades upward as a function of energy, concentration of elements or combination of both.
Just a guess with my fundamental grasp of the physics involved, but I would really like to understand why.

You do such a good job explaining the physical nature of processes to laymen, I was compelled to ask for your help.
I have read many articles on aurora, and have an understanding of everything except the vertical structure and the fading.

Thank you for your time!
- David

By David Andrews (not verified) on 18 Mar 2015 #permalink