What’s wrong with this infographic? A common misconception about the aurora is that it’s formed by particles streaming straight from the sun. But that’s not the whole story. By only considering the solar wind, we leave some key questions unanswered like why do we see the aurora at night (when we’re facing away from the sun)? The answer lies in magnetic reconnection in the magnetotail.
By Dr. Liz MacDonald Learn more at our Twitter #citscichat with Dr. Caren Cooper (@CoopSciScoop) on Aug 17 at 4 pm ET. Participants from most of the projects highlighted here will participate. Over a century ago, American astronomer W.W. Campbell set up a 40 foot ‘Schaeberle camera’ in Jeur, India to take pictures and study[…]
Fidget spinners are the latest fad toy and new student favorite, but did you know they can explain a total solar eclipse? Aurorasaurus founder Liz MacDonald explains how fidget spinners can be used to talk about physics concepts and orbital mechanics for kinesthetic learners.
The aurora is well-known to the savvy Aurorasaurus observer – fanciful colored lights in the sky caused by charged particles energizing the atmosphere near the North and South poles. But did you know that you can observe aurora as far south as Arizona? Or that the sky still glows at night in the absence of any aurora? For the first time, a new project is capturing these rare events with affordable cameras located in high schools across the United States, also enabling space-science education.
There’s a new dancing light display in the sky, and it’s not the usual aurora. We call it “STEVE” and need your help to learn more!
What are those dark spots on the sun? Coronal holes! In this post, guest blogger Michael Kirk explains what a coronal hole is and tells us about current and upcoming research into the field.
Maps are developed to best describe what surrounds us. That is true on the ground, and it is also true in space. To detail traffic in space, we must know both the magnetic field and the electric field: how strong are they? In what direction are they pointing? But unlike the magnetic field, the electric field is very difficult to measure, especially close to Earth! Using data from the Van Allen Probe satellites, we managed to make the first ever comprehensive observations of plasma transport due to the electric field close to Earth. This is a technical feat that allows us to test our 50 year old theories, at last!
Aurora only occur in particular areas of the world and are highly unpredictable which are some of the reasons why many people feel fortunate to see them at all. And, for the majority of known human history, you could only experience the beauty and mystique of aurora in person. Not anymore! Recently, the first virtual[…]
This post is written by Aurorasaurus guest blogger Nadine Kalmoni, a PhD student at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, University College London in the UK. The first time I saw this incredible image of the aurora (Figure 1) was just before Christmas of 2015 as a twitter post by a member of the public. I remember thinking, “Wow!” Photos and[…]
This is a post by our guest blogger this month, Justin Oldham, who is a former graduate student from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an instructor at the University of New Mexico. While studying aurora-related acoustics in Alaska I frequently encountered people who’d heard the northern lights during particularly intense displays on very still[…]