Sunday, June 17, 2012

Polar Lights-Aurora Facts

What is the Aurora?
On our earth, the aurora phenomenon occurs at the north and south poles.  In the northern hemisphere the aurora borealis is commonly known as the “northern lights”.  In the southern hemisphere the aurora australis is also know as the “southern lights”. This phenomenon occurs when particles in solar winds are pulled into the atmosphere by the earth’s magnetic force.  The aurora is said to be continuously occurring between 100km and 500km above the earth’s surface.
Where is the best place to observe the Aurora?
Located around both magnetic poles of the earth is a halo like ring called an aurora oval. The area directly beneath each aurora oval is the best place to see the aurora most often.  The cities located under the northern oval include Yellowknife, Canada; Fairbanks, Alaska and Lapland, Norway.  Among these places, Yellowknife has the least geographical obstructions, such as mountains, to provide a high percentage of clear weather in the winter which results in a high viewing probability.
When is the best time to see the aurora?
The aurora occurs all year round. The image of winter and aurora is strong, but you can actually view the aurora during the summer.  However, for some of the summer months in Yellowknife and other locations with high latitude, the sun only goes down for a short while.  Since it is still bright in the middle of the night it is not possible to see the aurora.  Furthermore, during the autumn and spring, the weather is rather unstable and has a lower percentage of clear skies.  Therefore, we have determined the best viewing seasons to be from mid-August to the end of September and from mid-November to mid-April. In Yellowknife, it is possible to see the aurora approximately 240 days of the year and when there are no obstructions such as heavy clouds, they almost always appear.  Aurora Village has calculated that each season, customers who participate in 3 consecutive days of aurora viewing have over a 95% chance of seeing the aurora.
While some people may be concerned that a full moon is a problem,  only weak aurora may be obstructed by the light of the moon, but in Yellowknife the aurora is frequently strong enough that aurora viewing is still possible on a moonlit night.  As far as aurora photography goes, the aurora above a moonlit landscape actually tends to have a pleasing effect.  On the whole, when participating in an aurora tour, one doesn’t need to be worried about the moon.
What types are there? 
The colours of the aurora range from the most common whitish-greens, to pinks, then to the rarer reds, blues and so on.  Red is difficult to recognize with the naked eye, and a deep red colour is so unusual that many people who live in the north have never seen it.  It comes in a variety of shapes: curtains, ruffles, bow, band, whirlpool, corona, but there are never two auroras of the same colour and shape. Finally, there is the aurora break-up comes with amazing speed and makes the night sky dance with awesome beauty. However, fast moving, colourful aurora can often last only a short time of around 10 minutes.  At Aurora Village, all of the staff are equipped with short-wave wireless radios in order to continually monitor and communicate the condition of the aurora so that the guests will not miss an aurora display.
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1 comment:

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