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Aurora Borealis

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No description can describe the splendor or the magnificence of the natural phenomenon known as the Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. The Northern lights have been described in ancient times by the Eskimos, American Indians, world explorers and even mentioned in the Old Testament.

Ben Franklin, Aristotle, Descartes, Edmund Halley, Goethe, and Henry Cavendish have all been fascinated by their array in the night sky, and have all written papers about them.

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On some occasions, when the Aurora reached the middle latitudes of France and Italy, it struck fear into the population. When they reached these latitudes, they were a dark red in color and thought of as an ill omen and the blood of battle. Every Northern culture has legends about the lights and often associates them with life after death.

The Geophysical Institute of the University of Alaska is a major station for the study of the lights with specialized cameras and improved spectroscopes. It was found that the displays were caused by magnetic disturbances from the sun, which produced light when colliding with atoms in the upper atmosphere.

The only Eskimo group that considered the Aurora an evil thing, were the Point Barrow Eskimos. They believed this so deeply, that they used to carry knives to keep it away.

The Tlingits and Eyak Indians of Southeastern Alaska consider them a sure sign of impending battle and that someone would be killed when they put on their cosmic light display.

Scientists do not deny that the Aurora may cause weather changes, due to the expansion of the upper atmosphere affecting the lower atmosphere where the weather originates.

The Aurora Borealis encircles the entire Polar Regions. People on earth only see a small part of their display as the lowest sections of the Aurora are 40 miles up. Astronauts looking down on the polar region from space have a better overall view to observe the Aurora as it extends app. 600 miles above the earth.

Aurora was the Goddess of Dawn in Roman Mythology. A 17th Century scientist named Pierre Gassend, applied the name Aurora to the Northern Lights.

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Aurora Borealis