Northern Lights Tour and Aurora Borealis Travel Guide Guide for Northern Lights Tour – Aurora Borealis

6 Responses to “What causes the northern lights in Alaska to shine?”

  1. I think they shine because of their electrical impulse caused by solar flairs and stuff.

  2. Ionized atoms transmitted by the sun being rerouted by the Earth’s magnetic field to (near) the Earth’s magnetic poles, where they are accelerated and react with the Earth’s atmosphere, giving off energy which is transmitted as light.

  3. The northern lights (Aurora Borealis) are the result of high energy cosmic radiation from the Sun interacting with atoms (usually nitrogen and oxygen) in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. As the radiation strikes individual atoms, the atoms are momentarily kicked into a higher energy state. The atoms then revert back to their original state and as they do so emit a small amount of energy in the form of light, which we see as the aurora.

  4. Starhawke said on

    solar flares from the sun that get caught in our magnetic field, and then get redirected to the northern part of our planet, which then become the northern lights that you see in Alaska.

  5. littlemissknowitall said on

    As the other folks said, energy flaring from the sun goes to the magnetic areas in the sky above the north and south poles and makes the oxygen and nitrogen in the upper atmosphere glow, just like the glow of the gases in the neon light signs at a bar or liquor store or an OPEN sign. The lights happen only when the sun is flaring, so if the sun isn’t doing anything, then there are no lights. The lights at the south pole are mirrors of the lights at the north pole. The lights occur all year, but are only visible when it’s dark. Whether you and I can see them depends on how far north we are, and the time of day. If there is a big solar storm, the lights can be seen farther south than if the storm is a smaller one. This year the sun has been fairly calm and the aurora activity has been low. As the earth turns under the magnetic area, that place on the earth can see an aurora, if it’s far enough north, and dark. In northern Alaska, where I live, it’s light in the summer and not dark enough now to see the aurora. Should there be some solar storms, it will be dark enough to see it again in late August. If it WERE dark, we would see it from about 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. because that’s when our part of the state revolves under the magnetic belt.
    People come to Alaska to see the northern lights in the late fall, winter and early spring. The best times seem to be late September and early March.

  6. They are very dependent on solar activity. This last year the sun was quiet and the lights were not very intense.

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