Prairie Light: Alberta Aurora

Prairie Light: Alberta Aurora

Prairie Light: Alberta Aurora

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
May 16 2012 10:57 AM

Prairie Light: Alberta Aurora

Every now and again my work piles up and I can feel that edge of panic start to set in.

Then I saw a video and my brain let out a nice long sigh (brains are remarkable that way): Alberta Aurora - Prairie Light, a lovely time lapse that has better-than-usual resolution and color, taken as the April 23/24 solar storm swept over the Earth.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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What you see in an aurora depends in part on the angle of the Earth's magnetic field relative to the air; the geomagnetic field guides particles from the Sun's outbursts into our atmosphere. If you are seeing this from far enough away, you get those sheets and ribbons, the interaction seen from the side. But at 1:50 into the video the perspective changes. The camera is underneath the point where the particles are streaming in, so you're looking up, right into the barrel of the magnetic field. It's a remarkable change in view that must be awesome to see in person.

I've never seen a full-on aurora, but some day I will. I hope it's as pretty as this one was.

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