Label: Northern Lights

September 3, 2013

This magnificent photo of the Aurora Borealis (also known as the Northern Lights) over Canada’s Yukon territory is today’s Cool Photo of the Week. Are you wondering about where these beautiful lights come from? You can read about it in my online Science Dictionary!



Photo: Jonathan Tucker 




Posted by: Seymour Simon

(0) Comments  •   Labels: space, Cool Photo, Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, Space Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

April 30, 2013


 As April 2013 comes to a close, so does our month-long celebration of Earth Day on this blog. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts about what we all can do to help care for and protect our home planet.

In honor of Earth Day, today’s "Cool Photo of the Week" is of the Northern Lights over Iceland. Can you imagine a more magnificent sight than this? 



Photo: Iurie Belegurschi     


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Cool Photo, Earth Day 2013, Northern Lights   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 21, 2010

This just in from one of my favorite sites, A coronal hole on the sun is turning to face Earth. Coronal holes are places in the sun’s atmosphere where the magnetic field opens up and allows solar wind to escape. Here is a magnetic map of the hole from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory:

  photo coronal hole


The magnetic field lines are color-coded in this very cool image. White lines are closed; they are holding the solar wind in. Golden lines are open; they allow the solar wind out. A stream of solar wind flowing from this coronal hole is expected to reach Earth on or about August 24th.

 People in high latitudes (closer to the poles) have a chance of seeing auroras (also known as northern lights) this week, so keep your eyes peeled!


Image: Karel Schrijver, Lockheed Martin SAL

Posted by: Liz Nealon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: science news, Astronomy, Aurora Borealis, Northern Lights, Space Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 3, 2010

We have a link to a 7-second video, recorded by extreme UV cameras onboard the Solar Dynamics Observatory. It shows an enormous magnetic filament breaking away from the sun. Some of this breakaway material is now en route to Earth in the form of a coronal mass ejection (CME). Click on this link to view.

As we noted yesterday, this "solar wind" may result in auroras, or an opportunity to view the Northern Lights from higher latitudes. Be on the lookout starting early tomorrow morning!

The Sun has constant nuclear explosions at its core, underneath the sea of boiling gases that form its surface. You can read more about the star at the center of our solar system in my book of the same name.


Posted by: Seymour Simon

(1) Comments  •   Labels: Aurora Borealis, Solar System, sun, Northern Lights   •  Permalink (link to this article)

August 2, 2010

Have you ever seen the Northern Lights, formally known as the Aurora Borealis, leap in the northern sky? The French scientist Pierre Gassendi gave this phenomenon its name in 1621, combining the name of the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, with the Greek name for the north wind, Boreas.

You never know exactly when the Aurora Borealis is going to be visible because these spectacular light shows are the result of space weather - including the eruption of solar flares. Early yesterday morning (August 1), NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded what they called "a complex global disturbance involving almost the entire Earth-facing side of the sun."  The event included a long-duration C3-class solar flare, what called a "solar tsunami."

These blasts have created a coronal mass ejection (CME) that is heading toward Earth.  It may be possible, especially in northern latitudes, to see the Northern Lights when the cloud arrives. It takes two days for the "solar wind" to reach Earth, so tomorrow night is the time to look to the northern skies.  

We have been in a quiet period since 2007, with little solar activity dramatic enough to cause auroras. Readers in the Northern Hemisphere, particularly those at higher latitudes, I hope we’ll break the streak and see a great show this week!

If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska/Fairbanks has an excellent FAQ page with many photographs of auroras, as well as diagrams showing clearly how they occur, and why.



Posted by: Seymour Simon

(5) Comments  •   Labels: Aurora Borealis, Solar System, Northern Lights, Space Weather   •  Permalink (link to this article)