Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2010 November 24

Flowing Auroras Over Norway
Image Credit & Copyright: Tor Even Mathisen; Music: Per Wollen; Vocals: Silje Beate Nilssen

Explanation: Have you ever seen an aurora? Auroras are occurring again with increasing frequency. With the Sun being unusually dormant over the past three years, the amount of Sun-induced auroras has also been unusually low. More recently, however, our Sun has become increasingly active and exhibiting a greater abundance of sunspots, flares, and coronal mass ejections. Solar activity like this typically expels charged particles into the Solar System, some of which may trigger Earthly auroras. As this year unfolded, the above timelapse displays of picturesque auroras were captured above Tromsų, Norway. Curtains of auroral light, usually green, flow, shimmer and dance as energetic particles fall toward the Earth and ionize air molecules high up in the Earth's atmosphere. With solar maximum still in the future, there may be opportunities to see spectacular aurora personally over the next three years.

Tomorrow's picture: dust

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