Unfortunately I’m not lucky enough to have seen the spectacular light display visible every winter – the aurora. At least not yet. But astronauts onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour got to see the aurora from a very different perspective before they touched down – they saw the mysterious green light show from above.
So what is the weird green light in auroras? Basically, our Sun constantly bombards our planet with a multitude of particles (the solar wind), some of which interact with our atmosphere, causing gases in the atmosphere to glow. It happens mainly toward the poles in winter because these are the places where the solar wind impacts our planet most.
Green coloring comes from ionized oxygen – there is also a small amount of red/purple/blue from nitrogen.
Post a comment if you’ve had any aurora experiences!