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Northern and southern light

8 apr 2015 15:29

NTR • 54 sec

Northern light, or southern light, is a phenomenon that can best be seen from the North or South Pole. But where do all these beautiful colours in the sky come from? The sun plays an important part.

These beautiful colours in the sky can be seen around the North and South pole. And sometimes you can even see them in The Netherlands. We call this phenomenon northern lights in the northern hemisphere, and southern lights in the southern hemisphere. The lights are caused by two sources: the sun, and the magnetic field of the earth. The sun has eruptions, which can cause solar particles to be thrown into space. This is called solar wind. When a solar wind heads for the earth, solar particles collide with the magnetic field of our planet. Think of the earth as a giant magnet, with a north and south pole. The electrically charged solar particles are bent past the magnetic field and attracted by the south or north pole. The solar particles continue to head for the earth, but they are slowed down by our atmosphere. Out atmosphere contains air, with substances that we need to live, such as oxygen. The electrically charged solar particles collide with the substances in earth’s atmosphere. That collision passes the energy from the solar particles to the atmosphere, causing a light in a great variety of colours. You can see this light best when it’s dark, and when you’re near the north or south pole. And of course, from space, if you happen to be in a space station.