Aurora Borealis: The Northern Lights

By Abi King | USA

Oct 03

Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights

The Northern Lights have always fascinated me. I’ve heard the explanations: how oxygen and nitrogen release photons after colliding high in the atmosphere and how that energy looks green or red, according to the time frame or distance, or something else that only ever seemed semi-plausible.

Despite studying science, there are a few things that always seem magical to me (or perhaps I just enjoy thinking of them that way.)

The Northern Lights are one such phenomenon. A greenish glow, occasionally scarlet, expressed as a paintbrush sweep across the sky, as fickle and fast as a dream.

Their other name, Aurora Borealis, comes from Aurora, the Roman Goddess of Dawn and the Greek word for north wind, Borealis.

Yet in the middle of the night, braced against the glacial breeze of southeast Alaska, I wasn’t paying much attention to the science, nor thinking about names.

I was simply enjoying the view: mother nature’s pyrotechnics at their very best.

The Northern Lights Practicalities

I saw the Northern Lights from the side of an American Safari Cruises yacht. I took the photo using my Canon 400D, with the max ISO and a shutter speed of about four minutes. That explains the red glow at the base of the photograph…it’s a ship safety light rather than the real Aurora Borealis! The white flecks are stars, though…

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