Earth ScienceScience

Northern Lights for Kids with Facts

Have you ever seen something like Northern Lights? Well, for countries near the north pole of the earth, it’s quite common that you have seen this before. But, if you belong to a country from the rest of the world, then it is a fascination for you. Yes, we always get fascinated by seeing pictures or videos of northern lights and I am pretty sure your kids too.

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These greenish and sometimes some other patterns of lights are not only seen in countries around the north pole. However, some countries in the south pole also get advantages of seeing such astonishing colours in the dark sky. Most of us have a top wish to visit there and enjoy that view, isn’t it?

Besides planning to visit there someday, you can also make your kids learn some extraordinary facts about the northern lights. This will help your child to make connections with nature and its exciting phenomena.

So, what are you waiting for? Let us dig deeper into the article.

What Do You Mean by the Northern Lights?

When we start grasping more information about northern lights, the first question that comes to our mind is what it is. There are several theories for explaining what exactly makes northern light, but before jumping right in, we should explain to our kids some basics related to this term.

In a simple definition, northern lights are some shades of lights seen in the north pole of the earth. Northern light is also familiar as a name aurora borealis.

For explaining this to your kids, you should make them familiar with some common words such as atmosphere, earth’s core, atoms, molecules, poles, gases etc.

How are Northern Lights Formed for Kids?

This is a complex phenomenon to explain the curious mind of your child. Yet, we can simply explain this by starting from the very beginning.

You can teach your kids that the formation of Northern lights or Auroras Borealis starts from the sun. Sun is a common star, and we frequently see it in the sky. This is a massive ball of fire that also has a solid middle portion or core.

This core contains large quantities of hydrogen gas and these gases through high temperature get converted into helium gas. Tiny charged particles from these gases come in contact with the earth’s upper gaseous environment (atmosphere) and donate some of their energy to the particles present there.

But those particles cannot retain that much energy and emit or convert this energy into light energy and form Auroras. Yes, this is the standard process for the formation of both northern lights and southern lights.

Now, your kids might ask why northern lights are colorful and mostly green or red? The most simplified explanation of this is due to the presence of oxygen and nitrogen atoms in the atmosphere.

Facts Kids Should Know About Northern Lights:

After knowing the basics of northern lights, now let’s know some remarkable facts.

Colors are defined by different gas molecules:

If you have seen the time-lapse videos or pictures of aurora borealis, you might know that these have different shades like a rainbow.

However, these are so different from patterns of colours in a rainbow. These colours are such as green, blue, red, violet, pink or yellow and sometimes white and orange. Now, you might have a question, why are these having numerous specks?

Well, the answer resides in its formation. As we discussed, the charged particles from the sun when collides with gaseous atoms in our atmosphere these lights are formed.

And there are several types of gases in our atmosphere from which oxygen and nitrogen are present as mass.

The light produced by the collision with nitrogen atoms forms blue, or red or violet colour. Yet, oxygen forms a green or yellow colour which is mostly seen. Also, oxygen at high altitude forms of red colour.

When a molecule of nitrogen (N2) gets energy from those solar charge particles, they form a violet colour. Other shades are the results of a mixture of two or more colours.

They are always present there:

You might have a question when Aurora lights are formed in the sky. Well, these lights are present every time there but seen best in certain conditions.

We can’t predict how long we can see the lights, but most of the solar activities decide the intensity of these lights.

It’s not only finite to earth:

Northern lights are due to the earth’s magnetic field. So, you may ask what about other planets?

Yes, these phenomena of beautiful lights are not only limited to earth. As all other planets also contain their own magnetic field, auroras are also glimpsed on other planets like Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

These planets have a thicker or denser atmosphere than earth and thus have their own auroras.

They look better with a camera:

Human eyes sometimes fail in between large shades of colours which can be observed in a better way through a high-resolution camera. So, in case you intend to tour countries with such beauties, don’t forget to carry a camera.

These are visible from space:

These glimpses of colours can be seen easily from space. So, Astronauts at the International Space Centre can visualize these more prominently as these are presently high in the atmosphere.

Several photographs from satellites describe more facts about these lights.

Auroras are the results of solar storms:

Solar storms define when you are going to visualize an intense as well as a stunning look of Auroras. These patterns change with variation in solar activities.

The name is coined from the name of the Roman Goddess:

Aurora is the name of the Roman Goddess of dawn. However, Borealis means north wind in the Greek language.

Also, there are several theories and beliefs of local people for such natural events. These are believed to be the divine powers.

Auroras are seen in the thermosphere of the atmosphere:

If you have taught your kids about different layers of the atmosphere, then you should also make them know that northern lights are formed in the ionosphere of the thermosphere due to high ions activities.

In that layer of our atmosphere, no weather activities are seen except for the formation of auroras.

We can discover these lights only at poles:

As we learned, northern lights, as well as southern lights, occur only at poles of the earth. But, are you feeling curious? Why?

Well, the charged particles from solar activities after coming in contact with the earth’s magnetic field, get directed to the poles. This is because the strength of these magnetic fields is weaker at poles.

Thus, these particles form such spectacular views only at poles, not everywhere.

Only a few countries get advantages:

Yes, only a few countries get the benefits of such delightful feelings of watching auroras.

The best countries to visit, if you want to see these spectacular lights, are Norway, Finland, Sweden, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, etc.

These are countries under the arctic circle. Further, you can see similar glimpses of colours at the South poles but less familiar due to significantly less landmass.

Conclusion:

So, this is all about our today’s topic. Northern lights or aurora borealis are so attractive that kids get easily mesmerized to these glimpses.

When we were kids, we loved listening to mysterious stories. And of course, these are the things never going to fade. Thus, experiencing aurora borealis is the top bucket list wish of most people, which will fulfil your fantasies.

We hope this article is helpful to you for making your kids understand what northern lights are. If you still have queries let us know through comment. For more such knowledgeable contents, follow us.

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