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.

2013 June 9

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 peaking at its eleven year maximum in aurora-triggering activity, it is 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 impact Earth's magnetosphere and trigger Earthly auroras. In late 2010, 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 excite atoms of air high up in the Earth's atmosphere. There may even be opportunities to see auroras tonight, as recent solar explosions have triggered numerous aurora sightings over the past few days.

Tomorrow's picture: hot stars

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