“Aurora borealis” in the north and “Aurora australis” in the south or known to many as – The Northern Lights – are one more of nature’s amazing attributes! The dancing lights in the sky appear in many forms, from patches or scattered clouds of light to streamers, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow.
The bright dancing lights, best seen around midnight during the winter, are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere and are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. Scientists have learned that in most instances northern and southern auroras are mirror-like images that occur at the same time, with similar shapes and colors.
2014 is one of the best years for viewing opportunities in over a decade! Canadian Geographic states, “solar activity – flares, sunspots, solar winds and other forms of radiation – is governed by the changes in the sun’s magnetic field”. The article goes on to say, “these activities wax and wane on a fairly predictable 11-year cycle known as the solar maximum” (Canadian Geographic January/February 2013 issue).
The best places to watch the lights in North America are in the north western parts of Canada, and in particular, right here around Fort St. John! Be sure to head out of the city where there is less light.
A clear, winter night is the best time to watch the sky for this awesome show but come anytime as we see the lights year-round!
Did you know? The lights also produce a strange sound for those close enough to hear, which is described as similar to the sound of applause.