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Solar flair

Another chance for northern lights tonight

Posted by David Epstein July 15, 2012 05:25 PM

Saturday night clear skies over much of the country helped create anticipation for a great display of the aurora borealis or northern lights. Unfortunately, much of the activity remained across the border in Canada although there were reports of activity in places like Duluth Minnesota and Burlington, Vermont.

Tonight, if you have clear skies, there is another chance to see the northern lights. You might wonder what makes it so difficult to predict. What you are seeing is the charged atmosphere as a result of tremendous energy being ejected from the sun. These flares tend to increase as the activity of the sun increases on an 11 year cycle. When a solar flare errupts on the sun it's like millions of hydrogen bombs exploding over a short period of time. (10 minutes or so). The energy from the flare rushes towards our atmosphere and charges it up. When we see the northern or southern lights we are seeing the sparks in the atmosphere from the charging. You can see shades of blue, white and even purple. Scientists have recently confirmed the lights also have a sound to them as well.
I will tweet updates on Twitter at @growingwisdomsolarflair3.gif


About the author

David Epstein has been a professional meteorologist and horticulturalist for three decades. David spent 16 years at WCVB in Boston and currently freelances for WGME in Portland, ME. In 2006, More »
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