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What is the Aurora Borealis?

The lights we see in the night sky are in actual caused by activity on the surface of the Sun. Solar storms on our star’s surface give out huge clouds of electrically charged particles. These particles can travel millions of miles, and some may eventually collide with Earth.

Most of these particles are deflected away, but some become captured in the Earth’s magnetic field, accelerating down towards the north and south poles into the atmosphere. This is why aurora activity is concentrated at the magnetic poles.

What we are seeing therefore are atoms and molecules in our atmosphere colliding with particles from the Sun. The aurora’s characteristic wavy patterns and ‘curtains’ of light are caused by the lines of force in the Earth’s magnetic field.

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