let’s talk about the northern lights
here’s a real-time video for the starters.
Northern lights/Aurora borealis are called revontulet (fox’s fire) in Finnish. According to an old belief revontulet are born when a fox runs and swishes snow with its tail. Sami people have a lot of folklore concerning northern lights.
In reality, they’re a natural light display that appears when solar wind/magnetospheric plasma hit Earth’s upper atmosphere.
Northern lights come in various shapes, sizes and colours: sometimes it’s just a dim green glow in the horizon, sometime’s it’s a rapidly moving multicolour splash that fills the whole sky. The most common type is probably a kinda blurry, yellow-green string of northern lights. Northern lights can also look like a defined string, an arch, an explosion…
The color depends on the atom and its energy (the guide below is extremely simplified!):
- O (monatomic oxygen) -> green
- O2 (molecular oxygen)-> red
- N (nitrogen) -> blue
- yellow, pink and purple are mixtures of red/green/blue aurora
Many people who’ve seen northern lights (including me) claim that they make a sound. The sound is described as humming, clanking and/or clattering. Scientists have been unsure how it could be possible as northern lights appear around 100 km above the ground. However, Finnish scientists at Aalto University have discovered that the sound might actually be the same particles that cause the light phenomena, possibly as they hit physical objects closer to the ground.
Basically the more north you go, the bigger are your chances of catching some northern lights. In northernmost Finland they can be seen as often as the every other night. In southern Finland, however, only a couple of times a year - or not at all. (They do occur every year in the south as well, but are not always visible due to clouds and/or light pollution.)
In the end, here’s a small video of two Finnish guys and their nightly northern light hunt.