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Northern lights (Aurora Borealis)

Aurora picture by Masatoshi Yamauchi

Northern lights, mostly called aurora, are the fluttering lights that can be observed in the sky over the northernmost parts of the world. A similar light is located over the southernmost parts of the world; it is called southern lights. Together the northern- and southern lights are called polar lights.

The Latin word for northern lights, Aurora Borealis, was first used in the early seventeenth century. Aurora was the goddess of dawn, i.e. red light of dawn, in ancient Roman mythology and Borealis means northerly. A translation would be the northerly light of dawn. The Latin word for southern lights is Aurora Australis, the southerly light of dawn. Even the Northern Saami (Lappish) word for auroras, guovsahas, is related to the light of dawn.

On the following pages you will be told, hopefully in a not too complicated way, about auroras. You can read a little bit about why there are auroras, how different auroras can look, some history and something about research on auroras.

For those who are interested there is a page with tips about how to see auroras.

You will find that some of the words in the text are green. This means that they can be found in the enclosed dictionary. A link to the dictionary is found at the top and bottom of each page.

The pictures in the text are very small, since the pages should be easy to download. If you want a larger picture just click on the one desired.

Table of Contents


[IRF Kiruna] [popular science] [dictionary] [next: Why are there auroras?]
HTML: Jenny Jutström
Uppdaterat: webmaster*irf.se, 2011-10-19.