Katahdin and the Northern Lights
Several of our staff members have been talking pictures of the northern lights, both from our base here at NEOC and from other locations in the area. We are located on Millinocket Lake overlooking Katahdin and it is a wonderful place to see the Northern Lights in Maine. This is a great location to view the Northern Lights when you can see them. If you are up after it gets dark, check out our webcam/starcam to see if there is any action.
What are the Northern Lights?
The bright dancing lights of the aurora are collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. They are known as 'Aurora borealis' in the north and 'Aurora australis' in the south.
Auroral displays appear in many colors although pale green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported. Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. The Lights appear in many forms from patches or scattered clouds of light to streams, arcs, rippling curtains or shooting rays that light up the sky with an eerie glow. (Source: Northern Lights Center Website)
What causes the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth's atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Variations in colour are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. The most common auroral color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. (source: Northern Lights Center Website)