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.

2011 March 28

Time-Lapse Auroras Over Norway
Credit & Copyright: Terje Sørgjerd; Music: Gladiator Soundtrack: Now we are Free

Explanation: Sometimes, after your eyes adapt to the dark, a spectacular sky appears. Such was the case earlier this month when one of the largest auroral displays in recent years appeared over northern locations like the border between Norway and Russia. Pictured in the above time-lapse movie, auroras flow over snow covered landscapes, trees, clouds, mountains and lakes found near Kirkenes, Norway. Many times the auroras are green, as high energy particles strike the Earth's atmosphere, causing the air to glow as electrons recombine with their oxygen hosts. Other colors are occasionally noticeable as atmospheric nitrogen also becomes affected. In later sequences the Moon and rising stars are also visible. With the Sun expected to become ever more active over the next few years, there may be many opportunities to see similarly spectacular auroras personally, even from areas much closer to the equator.

Tomorrow's picture: suns and planets

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