Featured Image for Incredible time-lapse of the Northern Lights viewed from space
Science

Incredible time-lapse of the Northern Lights viewed from space

Most of us would love a chance to see the Northern Lights one day.

As far as natural phenomena go, they rank somewhere near the top, along with volcanic lightening and total eclipses.

On September 15th, in an incredibly rare event, America’s Upper Midwest was lucky enough to get hit by a view of the Northern Lights.

And while the lights may look spectacular on Earth, astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) had an even more amazing view of the phenomenon.

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli was able to capture images of from aboard the ISS which the ESA have turned into a stunning timelapse.

For those of us living Down Under, viewing the Northern Lights may seem a little out of reach.

No worries, we have our own lights thank you very much – the Southern Lights – and they can be just as magnificent. In March, a Kiwi astronomer organized an Air New Zealand charter flight to coincide with the Southern Lights hitting the Antarctic Circle.

That may not happen again and was a little pricey but you do have other options.

You could just fly to Tasmania (or, if you live there, stay right where you are). In December 2015, for example, Tassie was lit up by some absolute stunners of its own.

You can even sign up for email alerts from Space Weather Services that predict when an aurora will be on display in Tasmania. We signed up in March and you would be surprised by how many alerts we’ve received since then.

Scientifically, there is no difference between the Northern and Southern Lights, except for the location. They occur because charged particles from the sun strike Earth’s atmosphere and are pulled to the magnetic poles — which is a pretty boring explanation for something so spectacular.

About the author

Stefan is an Adelaide-based freelance writer. In his spare time, he plays tennis badly, collects vinyl and brushes up on his Mandarin. Follow Stefan on Twitter

Leave a comment