13 November 2016 | Smoke On The Water

northern-lights-kjartan-gudmundur

Credit & copyright: Kjartan Guðmundur | Click image to enlarge

 

Aurora, or the Northern and Southern lights shine in the sky due to the Suns solar winds interacting with the Earths atmosphere.

The solar wind from the Sun contains charged particles which excite the Oxygen and Nitrogen in our atmosphere as this wind passes through the solar system. These atoms absorb the Suns energy which bumps them into a higher state of energy. This is not a stable configuration for the excited atoms, so they drop back to their original state. During this process, they release the absorbed energy in the form of photons of light. The Green Aurora in Kjartans photo comes from the excited O2 in the lower atmosphere.

As the Solar charged particles enter the Earths magnetosphere at the Northern and Southern Poles, this phenomenon is best seen at higher / Lower Latitudes. In the Southern hemisphere, the Aurora are only seen on Antarctica, unless the Solar winds are incredibly strong, pushing the Aurora curtain up towards South America.

In the Northern hemisphere, due to magnetic North being shifted from Polar North, the Aurora zone is offset and the lights can be seen regularly from Alaska, Canada, Iceland, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

In this stunning image “Smoke On The Water” from Kjartan Guomundar of Iceland, a 2s exposure at f/2.8 and 16mm focal length shows the magnificent curtains of Aurora reflected in the water in Keflavik region of Iceland. The sky is almost full with the dancing lights, and with the relatively short 2s exposure, this suggests that this was an excellent vibrant display on the night.

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