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Name: Chilsea R.
Status: student
Age: 13
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1/13/2003


Question:
Why does Barrow, Alaska, only get certain colored northern lights?


Replies:
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.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/refpages/RefArticle.aspx?refid=7615 78974

Best, Dick Plano...



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