The dancing of the arcs of the light resonate a mysterious feeling in the minds of many and have been doing so for quite some time now.
A typical night sky in the city can be a disaster with the pollution in the air making the sight of a single blinking star a miracle. The night skies outside the metropolis are a picture of perfection with the many constellations and the planets setting the black canvas ablaze with their silver white flashes.
A fascinating spectacle:
But a different tale is being told for ages in the southern and the northern reaches of the globe where a differential celestial phenomenon is commonplace. More commonly known as the southern and the northern lights, the aurora borealis and australis have been capturing the imagination of the people for time immemorial.
Scientifically the phenomenon occurs when solar wind particles interact with the magnetic field of the earth. They appear as shimmering fluorescent sheets of light.
Perception in the past:
There are records from the medieval times of Europe where people who witnessed the lights believed them to be omens of war, death and illness. Some even symbolized them to be heavenly warriors. The lights occur as a spectacular show in northern regions of Scandinavia where they were seen with respect and awe.
The lights start as a faint blip on the horizon and become dramatic, phosphorescent, drapery like arcs are formed in the night sky. The magnetic field of the earth connects the northern and the southern lights. The display of the light at both the ends of the planet is symmetrical. The fame however is not so symmetrical with the north lights or the aurora borealis being designated a natural wonder of the world.
The northern lights are more notable than the southern lights. They are also known as the polar auroras. There is not specific pattern to which the lights adhere and no measurements can be derived.
The best way to see the northern lights in action is by traveling to the northern top half of the world. As you travel closer to the magnetic north pole the chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis increases. The magnetic north pole is situated in the Canadian arctic islands. It cannot be predicted when the lights will show up but the best position would be right underneath them as they dance across the sky.
The lights have been observed during the months of March till April and September unto October. These months are the cold months of the year. One can also have a chance of sighting the northern lights during a late summer trip to northern Canada or Alaska. If you hear people saying that they saw the aurora borealis during the night before or early in the morning then stick around as it is possible to catch a repeat telecast of the show later that night.
Photographing the natural phenomenon:
It has been a challenge for many to capture the aurora borealis on film. The lights should be captured as naturally as possible. The photographer must also arm himself with a digital camera which has high sensitivity in capturing details.