How are the Northern Lights formed and why are they green?

Phenomenon can also be seen in Germany

What are the Northern Lights and how are they formed?

An aurora shines in the night sky on March 6, 2016 near Lietzen in the district of Maerkisch-Oderland (Brandenburg).

Seeing the Northern Lights once – that’s why some people travel to the far north. But sometimes the colorful spectacle can also be observed in the German sky, as last in the night from Sunday to Monday. But how does the phenomenon actually arise and under what conditions does it adorn the sky in this country?

What are northern lights – simply explained?

So-called solar storms are responsible for the greenish or reddish glow, explains Monika Staesche. She is the director of the Berlin Planetarium at the Insulaner and the Wilhelm Foerster Observatory.

Basically, the sun is constantly sending radiation and charged particles into space. This phenomenon is called the solar wind. There are also repeated eruptions on the sun: A significantly larger quantity of particles and radiation is temporarily emitted in an area of ​​the sun than usual. These can also reach the earth, and one then speaks of a solar storm.

The particles need about one and a half to two days to travel the approximately 150 million kilometers between the sun and the earth. When they enter the earth’s atmosphere, they glow. Staesche says that what can be seen there as the auroras are air molecules, either oxygen or nitrogen. These air molecules are briefly charged by the electrically charged particles. “When these then fall back into a neutral state, they emit this energy as such a glow,” explains the expert.

What types of Northern Lights are there?

There are two types of auroras. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) can be seen near the North Pole. The Southern Lights (Aurora Australis) can be observed near the South Pole. The way they arise is identical.

Where can you see the Northern Lights?

With normal solar activity, the northern lights can only be seen in the northern latitudes. If you want to watch them live, it is best to travel to the far north, for example to Sweden, Norway or Iceland, during the dark winter months.

As the tourism agency Visit Sveden explains, to be able to see the Northern Lights you need three conditions: “darkness, a clear sky and a nearby earth pole”. Accordingly, the phenomenon can also be observed near the South Pole in Antarctica.

Recommended Editorial Content

At this point you will find external content from Twitter, Inc., which complements the article. You can view it with one click.

I consent to external content being displayed to me. This allows personal data to be transmitted to third-party platforms. More about this in our privacy notices.

See also  Bidirectional charging: E-cars can store renewable electricity - Knowledge

A tip: this helps when searching for the Northern Lights Hello Aurora app. It shows how favorable the local weather conditions are for the sky spectacle.

Can you see the Northern Lights in Germany?

In Germany there are an average of ten to 20 sightings of the Northern Lights per year, reports the working group Meteore. The next time they can probably be observed again in the night from Monday (February 27, 2023) to Tuesday, says Monika Staesche. However, she cautions that the glow is more likely to be seen in darker areas. In brightly lit cities like Berlin, it is rather unlikely to see the northern lights in the sky.

In general, polar lights in Germany can only be observed after stronger solar storms. These can also have negative effects. They can interfere with GPS signals or impair the function of electronic devices.

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?

Northern Lights can be seen between September and March. The polar lights at the South Pole are the opposite: They can be seen between March and September.

Why are auroras green in photos?

Photos often show green auroras. Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are available in several colors: red, blue, violet, white or yellow. The colors that appear in the sky depend on two factors: the different components of the atmosphere and the altitude at which the spectacle takes place.

“The green aurora is mainly produced by oxygen atoms at an altitude of about 120 km. The red polar light, on the other hand, usually originates from oxygen atoms at an altitude of about 200 km. informs the German Weather Service. Violet and blue auroras mostly emanate from nitrogen atoms. Because much more energy is required for this, they are seen less frequently.

See also  Leukemia: How Doctors Saved a Terminally Ill Girl with a Novel Therapy

Where are the most beautiful Northern Lights?

In some places that lie in the so-called Northern Lights Oval, the chances of seeing impressive northern lights are particularly good between September and March. These include, for example:

  • Lofoten archipelago in Norway: The chances of seeing the Northern Lights in the northern part of Norway are generally not bad. The Lofoten offer perfect conditions – here you can see the lights almost everywhere, if they are there. The archipelago is sparsely populated, so light pollution is not very high.
  • Kiruna in Sweden: The city of Kiruna in Swedish Lapland is one of the most accessible aurora viewing locations by plane.
  • Faroe Islands and Greenland: Both areas are considered completely suitable for northern lights sightings, because both are sparsely populated and there is hardly any artificial light. While the Faroe Islands are generally developed, it is mainly the coastal regions in Greenland that invite you to stop because of the glaciers.

The “Reisereporter” of the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland has compiled even more places where you can easily observe polar lights: “These are the best places to see the Northern Lights.”

RND/dpa/saf/ih/Miriam Keilbach

See more here

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *