4 Interesting Facts About The Aurora You Should Know About

Witnessing the northern lights or aurora borealis is on most people’s bucket list. And rightfully so! The dramatic curtains of colorful light that appear in the night sky of the northern hemisphere is a sight to behold. Touring the Last Frontier State is an experience in itself. Summer tours of Kaktovik, Alaska are full of adventure and unforgettable memories. Getting to see the northern lights is like the cherry on top! But how much do you know about this magnificent spectacle? Here are four interesting facts about it that will motivate you to plan an Alaskan trip soon:

Specific colors are created by specific atoms

You know that this ethereal glow is the result of magnetic fields and collision of excited electrons, but did you know the polar light’s colors depend on if the electrons collide with nitrogen or oxygen, and how actively? Nitrogen emits off blue light, while oxygen gives red or greenish-yellow light. The blending of these colors results in pink, purple, and white. Nitrogen and oxygen also emit UV light, detectable by satellite cameras, not the human eye!

They are always present

The northern lights occur in high latitudes, in the polar region. But the phenomenon has been observed as far as southern Mexico. In certain areas of Alaska and Greenland, they are visible almost every night throughout the year. Auroras are also present during the day, but the naked eye can see them only after dark.

Man-kind has observed auroras for a long time

The comet fame, Edmond Halley, observed and commented on the lights in 1716, Benjamin Franklin in 1778. Pierre Gassendi and Galileo Galilei witnessed the aurora in 1621. Way back in the 500s, a reference was made about the northern light by Gregory of Tours. A Babylonian clay tablet is the earliest datable account. It recorded observations of a strange “red glow” on March 12/13 night in 567 BCE. The observations were made by King Nebuchadnezzar II’s official astronomers. However, some believe that the earliest representations of the phenomenon are in cave paintings that are 30,000 years old.

There are legends around the aurora

There is a legend that says that the ancient North Americans believed the northern light to be a narrow, torch-lit pathway that guided departed souls to heaven. The Iglulik called the aurora arsharneq and considered it to be a powerful spirit assisting shamans. During Roman times and even in 16th century Europe, the light displays, especially red ones, were feared as frightening omens.

Summer tours of Kaktovik Alaska are the perfect way to experience the grandeur of the Last Frontier State! We offer the best spring tours in Kaktovik. Get in touch for 2021 bookings!



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