Aurora: What causes the northern and southern lights.

Everything You Need to Know About What Causes an Aurora

Everything You Need to Know About What Causes an Aurora

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 15 2015 7:30 AM

What Causes an Aurora?

A curled aurora, due to a winding of Earth's magnetic field.

Photo by David Cartier

I write a lot about aurorae, the lovely and eerie glowing lights at extreme latitudes caused when subatomic particles from the Sun are channeled down into the atmosphere by Earth’s magnetic field.

Whenever I do I always wind up having to write a brief explanation of how they work; that’s the responsibility of a science writer.


But my burden is now eased a bit thanks to this well-done video giving a solid overview:

What I like about the video is that it covers the basics without giving too much detail or worrying over distracting side issues. And I have all those covered in earlier posts! So, for your brainy pleasure, here is more detail on …


In fact, gathering all these links in one place will make my life a lot easier next time I post a gorgeous aurora time-lapse!

My thanks to David Miles, part of the Investigations of Cusp Irregularities sounding rocket program, who sent me some links about the ICI-4 rocket campaign, which led me to the video.