The Northern Lights
Name: jan s belzer
Date: 1993 - 1999
We are the fifth/sixth grade students at Pleasant Hill School
in Palatine. We would like to know what causes the northern lights.
We were reading a book called The Iceberg Hermit, and they discussed
the northern lights. We looked up the definition on Information Finder
but the explanation was so complicated we still didn't understand.
Please help! Thank You very much!
Hmmm. I'm not sure how to make the explanation simpler. The northern
lights arise from particles very high above the earth - most
of these particles actually come from the sun, and the northern
lights are at their most spectacular when the sun has been very
active, with lots of spots and flares. What happens when the
particles come near the earth is that they get trapped by the
earth's magnetic field - moving charged particles tend to travel
along magnetic field lines. We know that the earth's magnetic
field points north, right? So, these particles head north (well,
some head south, but either way it's the same idea) and towards
the northern part they start coming down towards the earth, where
they run into the earth's atmosphere. The energy of these collisions is
what you are seeing in the northern lights.
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Update: June 2012