aurora night

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Aurora

An aurora, sometimes referred to as a polar lights or northern lights, is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions. Auroras are produced when the magnetosphere is sufficiently disturbed by the solar wind that the trajectories of charged particles in both solar wind and magnetospheric plasma, mainly in the form of electrons and protons, precipitate them into the upper atmosphere (thermosphere / exosphere), where their energy is lost.

Image credit: Science Channel / Gardar Olafsson

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Looking straight up into an Icelandic aurora

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Wispy northern lights over Iceland. The mountains are illuminated by the light of the moon.

What a special night to be out on the ice watching the aurora flicker across the sky. I could still hear the beat of drums from the New Year’s Eve drum dance celebration in town. Happy New Year - I can’t wait to find out what 2016 has to offer. Tulit’a, Northwest Territories, Canada.

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Aurora, Luna and comet.

Shortly after sunset, whose glow is still visible in the background, Ingólfur Bjargmundsson snapped this image of the Aurora Borealis and comet Panstarrs. The comet is visible as a smudge above the sunset and below the right hand streamer of glowing charged particles that channel the energy of the solar wind down towards the surface. Barring the stars all the light in this image derives from Sol.

This image is part of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, London.

Loz

Image credit: Ingólfur Bjargmundsson