What are the Northern Lights
Isn’t it a dream of yours to see the the northern lights? To see the amazing display of colors, vibrant green, blue, and red, dancing across the night sky would be a beautiful sight.
How are the northern lights formed? The northern lights, or aurora borealis form when the sun flares release charged particles that penetrate the earth’s magnetic field in the far upper and lower latitudes. (the southern lights do exist, and they are called aurora australis). These particles collide with molecules in earth’s atmosphere, give off light. The color of the emitted light depends on the elements in the atmosphere. Seen from the ground, it is truly a peaceful rendition of a violent storm.
Cultural Significance and Spirit Meaning
If you have seen the 2003 Disney movie Brother Bear you know that that lights have spirit meaning to the natives and eskimos in northern regions. The Inuit natives believe that the lights are where their ancestors dwell, and when the lights touch earth (when they become visible) they are visiting their people to send blessings. They call the spirits of their ancestors selamiut, meaning “sky-dwellers.” It is easy to understand why the natives would connect the beautiful lights to a deeply rooted spirit meaning. Seeing the magical display of colors would be a spiritual experience.
Northern Lights in Scouting
Those of you that have seen the northern lights, you would surely like to go back. For those of you that haven’t, You may not have to go as far as you think. Whether you have seen them or not, you’ll enjoy this great Scout article that includes amazing facts about the northern lights and bits of history of aurora storms.
Michael Freeman writes on the Bryan on Scouting BSA blog, explaining that in some rare solar storms, the aurora borealis can be seen from the lower US.
“In September 1859, a solar storm so intense hit the earth that it lit up the sky in the Northeast U.S. and the Rocky Mountains so people there could sit outside and read their newspapers after midnight? The celestial lights were also seen as far south as Hawaii and Cuba.” The sun has released numerous storm flares since this 1859 occurrence, it is just a matter of those flares being directed toward earth to see the lights.
Freeman also tells us there are 4 BSA districts names after the aurora borealis.
Upcoming Space Events
January 31st, 2018 there will be a total Lunar Eclipse, when the Moon passes completely through the Earth’s dark shadow. During this type of eclipse, the Moon will gradually get darker and then take on a rusty or blood red color. The eclipse will be visible throughout most of western North America, eastern Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Ocean. (NASA Map and Eclipse Information)