Northern Lights  Fiction Or FactNorthern Lights Fiction Or Fact

The Northern Lights are known by some only by their scientific name ?aurora borealis?, and have been known as a fascinating subject for many years. The Northern Lights are bright moving bands of color located in the far northern sky. Since the Northern Lights are as beautiful as mysterious, they have caused many people-young and old-to become perplexed, asking questions, such as: What are the Northern Lights? Where did the lights come from? How long have they been here? Are these lights dangerous? Etc. There is a scientific explanation for the lights, as well as a plethora of folkloric tales associated with them.

What Causes These Lights?

There are flare-ups and explosions from the sun constantly, which shoots plasma into the air at an extremely high rate of speed. This plasma-like matter from the sun reaches the earth's atmosphere within about 3 days. It then becomes trapped in the earth's magnetic field that surrounds the earth. This matter is kept very close to the earth near the north pole (Northern Lights) and the south pole (there are southern lights, too!), and is visible as waves of color. The waves closest in altitude to the earth are blue, followed by green, and then the color red.

When Can I See Them?

The best times to see the Northern Lights will vary depending on where you live. There is no predictor of when or where the Northern Lights will be visible. The further north you live or are located, the better your chance to see the Northern Lights. Other common places to see the Northern Lights are: United States, Canada, Northern Europe, Greenland, Alaska, and other northerly locations. The ideal season for viewing runs from October through to March, and some year's visibility is better than others, and a clear, cloud-free night is better than its counterpart.

What Are The Folk Tales?

The legends and folkloric tales involving the aurora borealis are numerous. Since there are so many stories, we are able to see the basic desire of the ancient man to understand and put meaning behind such an unbelievable occurrence.

Some stories designate the lights as a pathway for those who voluntarily die or are violently killed, so they can get to the after-life through a hole in the sky. Some stories state that noises are heard when the Northern Lights are visible. These noises of the Northern Lights can be: spirits trying to communicated with others on earth; spirits playing football; and spirits feasting.

The Fox Indians of Wisconsin believe the lights are a foreboding of war and pestilence; The Eskimos of the lower part of the Yukon River believe the lights are animal spirits dancing; while the Salteaux Indians believe the lights are human spirits dancing. Another myth, this one from the Algonquin, state that as the Great Creator was finished creating the Earth, he went to the north and lit fires that would remind his people he was continuously thinking of them.

See For Yourself

Whether you believe the aurora borealis are a folktale or scientific fact, the lights of the north are captivating experience to partake in. Many yearn to see them. Go ahead, take a trip to the north, and be your own judge of the secrets beyond these legendary lights.

by Margarette Tustle
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By Margarette Tustle. Find more information regarding lights at

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