A natural light display ignited the sky late Monday night, ushering in the New Year with a magnificent display of swirling colors. This video of the northern lights, aka the aurora borealis (seen here), was captured on tape in Troms – a county located in Northern Norway.
For those looking to catch a glimpse of the same phenomenon, it’s a good idea to start looking into flight options. The lights are usually seen in the higher altitudes (above latitude 60 degrees at the very least) of the Arctic and Antarctic regions – or the locations nearest the north magnetic pole. According to The Telegraph, these would be the best destinations to fly to when booking your trip – just make sure to do so during the optimum periods from October to November and February to March (although the lights can still be seen in late September and early April).
Its southern counterpart, the southern lights (or the aurora australis) can also be seen in high southern latitudes in South America, Australia, Antarctica and New Zealand. Norway, however, boasts some of the brightest lights around the world.
But what exactly causes this effect?
Named after the Aurora, the Roman goddess of dawn and Boreas, the Greek name for the north wind, aurora borealis, the northern lights occur when highly charged electrons and protons from solar winds interact with and excite the elements in the earth’s atmosphere. The emitted color, however, depends on which atom is struck and the overall altitude of the particles. The yellow-green color seen in CBS’s video, for example, comes from particles’ interaction with oxygen.
For any travelers looking to make the trip up to the north, just a word of advice: 9pm to 2am are considered the prime viewing times, although the lights are most visible at magnetic midnight – the time when the North or South magnetic pole is exactly between the sun and an observer on the earth’s surface. Since the North Pole and the north magnetic pole are not precisely aligned, the event usually occurs one hour before 12 o’clock.
Many hotel services will even offer an “aurora” alarm service for patrons who might need a little help waking up for the event. With just a bit of luck, you’ll be able to see the night sky ablaze with colorful swirling lights impressive enough to rival your neighbor’s yearly Christmas decorations.
* Video courtesy of CBS News.