Dance of the Spirits

The beautiful Aurora Borealis

They come in an array of colors. They beautifully dance in the skies, enchanting all who view them. They are known as the Aurora Borealis. The Borealis are also more commonly known as the Northern Lights, specifically because they most commonly occur in the Northern Hemisphere. The Cree call them Dance of the Spirits.

A French scientist, Pierre Gassendi, saw the lights in the north in 1621. He dubbed the lights Aurora Borealis, after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora.

It is believed in some cultures that the auroras are the spirits of their dead. The Eskimos believe that they are the souls of animals. Some even believe that as the auroras dance closer to the those who are watching them, that they will envelop you, and take you to the heavens.

The auroras are created when charged particles collide in the Earth's atmosphere. The energy created by the charged particles become lost by light emissions. Different gases within the upper atmosphere create the various colors of the auroras. Even solar wind activity from the Sun can influence the color of the auroras.

The auroras typically look like waving curtains across the sky. But it also takes on the shapes of streamers, arcs, patches, and rays. The auroras occur between 35-600 miles above the Earth. It is suggested that they are shaped by the Earth's magnetic field. Satellites have shown that they often spiral around the Earth, guided by magnetic field lines.

Although they are brief, the sheer beauty of this awesome phenomena gives us a glimpse at heaven. There are few natural occurrences such as these, which can offer us such wonderful sights.

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