Auroras at Home


Fort St John, Canada

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on Sept 13th/10 as you might have seen in my previous photos we had a pretty good Aurora display…when we got back from the lake we were still getting northern lights here where we live….I have noticed that a few people have asked me if I photoshop the colours into the photos and well this is what the camera sees…so I went and copied the MECHANICS of the Auroras……Auroras result from emissions of photons in the Earth’s upper atmosphere, above 80 km (50 miles), from ionized nitrogen atoms regaining an electron, and oxygen and nitrogen atoms returning from an excited state to ground state. They are ionized or excited by the collision of solar wind particles being funneled down and accelerated along the Earth’s magnetic field lines; excitation energy is lost by the emission of a photon of light, or by collision with another atom or molecule:
oxygen emissions
Green or brownish-red, depending on the amount of energy absorbed.
nitrogen emissions
Blue or red. Blue if the atom regains an electron after it has been ionized. Red if returning to ground state from an excited state.
Oxygen is unusual in terms of its return to ground state: it can take three quarters of a second to emit green light and up to two minutes to emit red. Collisions with other atoms or molecules will absorb the excitation energy and prevent emission. The very top of the atmosphere is both a higher percentage of oxygen, and so thin that such collisions are rare enough to allow time for oxygen to emit red. Collisions become more frequent progressing down into the atmosphere, so that red emissions do not have time to happen, and eventually even green light emissions are prevented.
This is why there is a colour differential with altitude; at high altitude oxygen red dominates, then oxygen green and nitrogen blue/red, then finally nitrogen blue/red when collisions prevent oxygen from emitting anything. Green is the most common of all auroras. Behind it is pink, a mixture of light green and red, followed by pure red, yellow (a mixture of red and blue), and lastly pure blue….I hope this helps in the explanation of these photos this was taken from my yard just north of Ft St Jon British Columbia ,Canada……Steve!,375&...!

Artwork Comments

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