What are the Southern Lights? - Answers

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What are the Southern Lights?

Infographic elaborating Aurora AustralisThe world is equipped with magnificent natural phenomenons, that amaze the eyes of human beings. You ever saw a shooting star? It’s the beauty only the lucky ones have witnessed. Another brilliant phenomena is the appearance of colorful lights in the dark sky, away from the cities – Auroras. The ethereal glow of Aurora Australis and Aurora Borealis appears in the Southern and Northern hemisphere respectively. They form in the magnetosphere as a result of collision of electrically charged particles from solar winds, with atmospheric gases of the earth. These generally appear as green colored lights, but many times the color could vary between red, blue, ultraviolet, yellow and pink.

The name ‘aurora’ is derived from Latin word ‘morning light’ because they are believed to be the first light which emits at the dawn. Strongest in an oval center, most auroras occur in a band called “auroral zone”, which has an area between 3° to 6° latitude, and between 10° and 20° from the geomagnetic poles. Frequently appearing as ‘curtains’ in the sky, they extend in east-west directions. The most distinctive being ‘auroral arcs’. The curtain sustains parallel rays, which are lined up as per Earth’s magnetic field.

The northern lights are better known for plenty land exists on the Northern hemisphere to spot the Aurora Borealis. These lights on the other hand can be witnessed when traveling to farthest regions in the Southern Hemisphere. Since not everyone is interested to park their wagons at the South Pole directly, people can visit numerous locations in New Zealand to witness the polar lights for example: Steward Island, Lake Tekapo, The Catlins, Invercargill and Dunedin. Apart from New Zealand, other well-known places for catching a glimpse of Southern Lights are: South Georgia Island, The Falkland Islands, Mount Wellington and Victoria in Australia, Ushuaia in Argentina and Antarctica.

Aurora Australis doesn’t occur all year long. It is mostly visible on the dark nights of winters, that is during March to September. There are many other perfect conditions that need to be checked, before you assure yourself that you would be able to spot these lights in the midnight. For example, there should be strong gusts of solar winds, and a clear sky. Since they occur in upper atmosphere, clouds can obstruct their view. The darker it is, the better the view of polar lights would be. Best observatories tend to be on areas away from the artificial lights of the city, such as the mountains. Even moonlight could deter your experience.

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