Good to KnowAugust 2, 20216 Minutes

Northern Lights Facts

What is the most unusual location where the Northern Lights have been spotted? Who was the first person to accurately describe this phenomenon? And precisely why do the Auroras often appear green? The answers to these questions can be found here, so continue reading if you want to enhance your knowledge of these celestial wonders.

1. Why are the Northern Lights so often green?

The colors of Auroras are influenced by the composition of gasses in the Earth’s atmosphere. Solar particles interact with various gasses at distinct altitudes, with the most common collision occurring between 100 to 300 kilometers above the ground. Within this range, particles striking oxygen atoms produce the well-known green hues. Beyond 300 kilometers, the lights take on a red hue, while below 100 kilometers, the colors become more varied. Recognized colors for Northern Lights include green, pink, red and green mixtures, pure red, yellow, pure blue, orange, and white.

The human eye is more sensitive to green than other colors, making it easier for us to perceive the Northern Lights in shades of green. This phenomenon is a key reason why photographs of the Aurora Borealis often capture colors that were not visibly apparent to the naked eye at the time.

Read more from The Aurora Zone. Also check this article about the true colors of Aurora Borealis.

2. Did you know that Auroras have been seen at the Equator?

There is confirmed proof that the Northern Lights may not always be so northern, after all. Reports say the most southern Northern Lights ever have been witnessed during the massive solar storm of 1859 known as the Carrington Event. During that time, the colors typical of Aurora Borealis were seen in Honolulu, just 21° north of the equator. These lights are the southernmost northern lights reported in recorded history.

It seems that the Southern Lights, the Aurora Australis, have been seen even closer to the Equator. Historians have uncovered evidence suggesting that the Lights were seen from Samoa in 1921, at a latitude of 13° south, and another report from Singapore at just 8° south during the storm of 25 September in 1909. It is very likely that the Aurora Australis were visible even from the Equator at the time, but there are no verified reports to be found. While Singapore and other countries near the Equator may have to wait for their next Auroras quite a long time, the show continues at the Arctic Circle!

Stay under the Northern Lights

Our Glass Igloos at Apukka Resort offer the perfect opportunity for viewing the Northern Lights. If you get lucky, you can admire these magnificent lights from the comfort of your bed.

3. Who was the first human who accurately described this phenomenon?

Many ancient cave paintings depict the Aurora Borealis, with the oldest known painting titled “Macaronis” dating back to around 30,000 B.C. Around 2600 B.C., Chinese writings mentioned “strong lightning moving around in the sky.” Even Aristotle acknowledged these lights in his book “Meteorology” from 384-322 B.C., describing them as a light resembling the flames of burning gas. He further noted that if these flames spread and simultaneously emitted sparks and rays, they were referred to as “jumping goats.”

But who was the first one to offer a truly scientific description of the Auroras? In the 17th century Galileo Galilei gave the phenomenon its scientific name “Aurora Borealis” and tried to explain it as some kind of reflection from the Sun. Unfortunately the description was wrong, but the name stuck. It took about 200 years until the truth was finally revealed in Norway.

The first precise account of the Northern Lights was provided by Professor Kristian Birkeland in the 19th century. He posited a connection between the Aurora Borealis, electromagnetic storms, and the Earth’s magnetic field. In an attempt to substantiate his theory, Birkeland even generated artificial Northern Lights in his laboratory. Despite his efforts, his theories faced staunch opposition from eminent international scientists of the era and were not widely accepted at the time.

While Birkeland’s hypothesis marked the initial realistic attempt to explain the Northern Lights, understanding the diverse shapes, colors, movements, and altitudes of the phenomenon had to await the investigations of space-age researchers. The University of Oslo has released an insightful and in-depth article in their research magazine, Apollon. If you’re eager to learn all about Prof. Birkeland and the Northern Lights, don’t miss the chance to explore this article.

Eager to witness the Northern Lights yourself?

If our insights have sparked your curiosity and you wish to see the mesmerizing colors of the Northern Lights with your own eyes, explore our Aurora tours. Apukka Resort stands renowned as one of the premier locations in Lapland for Aurora sightings. Our strengths lie not only in the ideal Arctic setting and a diverse array of activities but also in our distinctive accommodation offerings, featuring cozy glass igloos that provide a perfect vantage point for skygazing from the comfort of your bed.