Aurora Borealis over spruce forest, Alaska

Aurora Borealis over spruce forest, Alaska

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Credit: MICHAEL GIANNECHINI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Aurora Borealis. A shimmering curtain of light from the aurora borealis dances and fans across the sky above a spruce forest in late winter. This trail of light is also known as the Northern Lights in the northern hemisphere. Early eskimos believed these lights were the playful souls of children on their way to heaven. Nowadays we know that the aurorae occur when charged cosmic particles become trapped in the Earth's magnetic field. As the particles spiral toward the poles around the magnetic field lines, they collide with gas molecules in the upper atmosphere. This causes the molecules to ionise and form flickering patterns of light. Photographed in Alaska.

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Keywords: alaska, atmospheric phenomenon, aurora boreali, aurora borealis, aurorae, earth science, earth's atmosphere, effects, electromagnetic effect, forest, northern lights, sciences, spruce, spruce forest

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