Aurora and Color
Name: Chilsea R.
Why does Barrow, Alaska, only get certain colored
I do not think the colors of northern lights around Barrow, Alaska
differ from colors seen elsewhere. If you know otherwise, I
would be most interested to hear about it.
Northern lights are caused by light emitted from atoms in the
atmosphere which are excited by charged particles trapped in and
leaking out of the van Allen radiation belts. These are places
where the charged particles are trapped by the magnetic field of
the earth. The belts, of course, come into the earth's
atmosphere around the earth's magnetic poles, which is why the
aurora is mainly near the north and south poles of the earth.
Anyway, the light emitted is characteristic of the atoms making
up the atmosphere of the earth which are, of course, mainly
nitrogen, oxygen, and hydrogen and so the colors are
characteristic of these atoms.
Further explanations of northern lights are available many
places. You might enjoy clicking on the URL below, which I found
to be a good explanation.
Best, Dick Plano...
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Update: June 2012