The Northern Lights phenomenon
The Northern Lights are most visible close to the north polar regions and are officially called the Aurora Borealis. In contrast, the Southern Lights found near the south polar regions are known as the Aurora Australis. The scientific explanation behind these incredible multi-coloured light-shows may just surprise you.
The dancing displays of colour which sweep across the skies are the result of powerful eruptions from the sun, which send strong solar winds out into space. These winds collide with gaseous particles that are present in the earth’s atmosphere from a variety of naturally occurring base elements. It’s this collision which produces the intense auroras of light.
Differing colours appear due to the range of elements involved, which is why the Northern Lights can display a kaleidoscope of hues. These include eerie luminescent greens, patches of white, pinks and purples all set against a magnificent backdrop of stars.
The most intense aurora activity happens during what is known as a solar maximum period, when the sun is sending out huge amounts of solar wind. These happen in 11 year cycles and are the best times to see Northern Lights activity at its most spectacular, although any glimpse is sure to blow you away.