©Stefan Linnerhag/ Northern Lights over Henningsvær

Aurora Borealis

In 2013/14 we expect to be able to observe a lot of Aurora boralis, or northern light, here in Lofoten. In Henningsvær and its surroundings there are not much light pollution and therefore good conditions to take pictures and observe the “show”. But be sure to bring warm clothing.
In Gammelfileten Brygge you can just make a warm cup of coffe, dress well and go out on the terrace of the apartment and wait for the show to begin.

Take contact if you want an offer for a stay during the “northern light period”.

Aurora borealis

 

WHAT IS BOREAL LIGHT?

What is really Boreal Light? The Boreal Light appears when energetic clouds of electro magnetic radiation meets the atmospheres atoms and molecules, and make them shine. When meeting, they become unstable, where the energy level is higher than before. While they are stabilising to the stabile basic condition, the surplus energy is released as light kvanter with the characteristic wave length (colours). The light can be seen from 90 up to 300 km.

When the sun has a rupture, enormous amounts of energy is released, witch creates intense radiation, and some times clouds of very energetic particles, that is projected out in space. When the earth lies in the trajectory of a rupture, parts of the projected particles hits the earths magnetic shield. In those cases, there are interference in the magnetic shield and creates beautiful Boreal Light, and it can be seen. The interference can also damage to electric systems. Satellites in orbit around the earth, can get out of order and in the worst of cases get damaged of the particles filled with energy from the suns rupture.

Astronauts out in space, are also in danger. Big ruptures from the sun, can send out big amounts of particles that may be deadly (typically protons with high level of energy), with almost the speed of the light, hits the earth only 10-15 minutes after a rupture. An astronaut out in space can be killed of such a cloud. There are satellites that can warn you about such events, so the astronaut can search shelter. A better understanding of these mechanisms behind these enormous ruptures are quite important, to better predict and in the same time warn potential dangerous ruptures.

Every day there is boreal light in the polar areas, as in northern Scandinavia, island and Greenland. It is seen especially at local midnight. In Denmark appears boreal light mainly in connection with a powerful magnetic activity, “magnetic storm”. On earth, these magnetic storms are sees when there have been a volcano like rupture on the sun. These ruptures are quite common on that part of the suns 11 year period, when there are many spots on the sun. In 2002-2003 the activity was at its top. We are now on our way towards a minimum of spots on the sun in about year 2013. The years in between maximum of spots and minimum of spots, magnetic storm appears only a few times a year. In a period of maximum of spots, magnetic storm appears several times a month.

The boreal light on the dark sky, have some few but strong characteristic colours, that mirrors the composition of the atmosphere. It was the Swedish, A. J. Ångstrøm, that in 1867 with a simple

spectrometer, first decided the characteristic waves for the visible boreal light. The dominating colours are yellow-green, red and blue-violet lines. Apart the visible colours, there are lines in the ultraviolet and infrared areas.

How does the boreal light look like?

In the boreal zones, whitch are circular areas around the magnetic poles, the boreal light are usually white greenish and have a shape as long, waving curtains, that hang from a horizon to an other, often in many hours. The boreal light looks also like bows, that goes out from the earth and go fare up and then return to earth. In between the normally calm bows, get active and restless and explode in to wild movements with strong luminous colours.

Boreal light in a historic context

Boreal light is a phenomen as old as the earth and has been described in ancient writings from countries as Kina, Egypt, Greece and the old Rome. There are many fantastic histories and tellings about the boreal light and explanations filled with fantasy. In the nordic countries that lies in the boreal light zone, the boreal light has been a mystic, unexplainable and a scaring part of the everyday and you can find explanations of the boreal light in nordic saga and legends. But it was also in the nordic countries that the modern research and science started and became a part of todays space research.

Myths and superstition

In many nations has the boreal light created myths and superstition. Mostly has it given the opportunity to create fear for the supernatural or as an omen about accidents and death. There are big differents between the believes in the north and south. This differents has a real physical background. In the north, in and near the boreal light zone, the boreal light appears daily, but appears rather rear in the south.

Not all the tellings about the boreal light was that scaring. According to the Ottawa Indians in Canada, created the god Nanahboozko the world and the people and gave them wisdom and experience. Later he moved further to the north, but promised before he left, that he always would keep an eye on them and take care of them. As a sign of this, he would lid a powerful fire from time to time and the light would be seen by man in the sky. So for these Indians the boreal light was a positive sign, that Nanahboozko, their god and creator, looked after his children and had them in mind all the time.