Magical color explosion: Alaskan Aurora Corona
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, dazzled on the evening of August 25, 2018 in Alaska. Even experienced night sky watchers were anxiously awaiting darkness so that they could witness this amazing display. The beautiful night sky in remote Alaska, unimpeded by any light pollution, makes this display a wonderful treat. You will see many stars, as small satellite trails come into view and appear to zip across the screen. The aurora looks as if it’s raining down on the tall Alaskan Spruce trees which are seen in most parts of bush Alaska. Northern Alaska is fortunate in that the aurora is seen many days out of the week during the winter months, when it is dark. But what is the aurora?
The Aurora Borealis (and Aurora Australis in the southern polar regions) is a natural light display in the earth’s night sky. Auroras occur when magnetically charged particles from the sun, carried by solar winds, interact (ionize) with the earth’s atmosphere. The reason they are seen in the northernmost parts of the world is because they are drawn to the magnetic north and south poles. That is why they are not often seen outside northern regions like Alaska, Canada, Norway, and Iceland. But there have been events strong enough where aurora were seen, even in some of the most southern parts of the United States. These events are extremely rare, however. Because these energized particles are interacting with our atmosphere, they sometimes appear to “dance,” as they do in this video time lapse. It’s a myth that aurora can only be seen in winter. These particles are interacting with our atmosphere at all times during the year, but because northern areas experience little to no daylight in the summer months (the midnight sun), the aurora is not able to viewed. It can be viewed from about August through winter into April. Aurora colors and formations can vary, and what you see in most of this video is what’s called a corona. A corona is an aurora that appears to “burst” from a central point. In this video, you will see aurora corona pulsating as it dances in the night sky above Delta Junction, Alaska, near Fairbanks.