If you live near the Earth’s poles, one of the most beautiful things you will ever be treated to is a view of the auroras. Lighting up the sky in shades of green, the Northern Lights are a mesmerizing and unique phenomenon. This phenomenon is created within our planet’s magnetic field. Recently, some stargazers were treated to an extremely rare sight as the northern lights turned an incredible shade of pink.
According to Yahoo News, the auroras’ rare pink hues were caused by what seems like a relatively violent incident. Per the outlet, the northern lights turned a bright shade of pink following a combination of cosmic events. These events occurred thanks to a crack in our planet’s magnetic field. That crack enabled highly energetic solar particles—otherwise known as solar wind—to enter our atmosphere. The atmospheric event took place on November 3rd.
Behind the Wonder of the Auroras
Markus Varik, a guide for Greenlander tour company, spoke about the atmospheric wonder earlier this month. He said he spotted the pink and purple auroras around 6 p.m. while leading a group near Tromsø, Norway. Varik has worked as a guide for 10 years, conducting over 1,000 tours of the nation’s northern lights.
Varik said that the pink northern lights weren’t the most vivid he had ever seen. Still, the color intensity was “super rare,” with the guide remarking that it “almost never happens.”
“The Northern Lights are always different, never the same,” he said. “It’s like us, people, completely unique in our own special ways.”
While pink northern lights are rare, their usual green hue is equally fascinating. Green auroras occur when oxygen atoms are struck by energetic particles. Purple auroras, on the other hand, happen under “rare” conditions, when electrons penetrate deep into the atmosphere, crashing into nitrogen particles.
The northern (and southern) lights, as stated, are most commonly found near Earth’s poles. This is where the shields that protect Earth from cosmic radiation are weakest. These light shows typically take place anywhere between 62 and 186 miles above our planet’s surface, forming when streams of solar wind pass through the magnetic field, superheating gases that then glow in the sky.
The Northern Lights Make a Rare Appearance Over the UK
Although the Northern Lights are most commonly viewable toward the Earth’s northern and southernmost regions, stargazers nearer to the equator are occasionally treated to a view of the auroras as well. Last month, an astrophotographer based in the UK was lucky enough to capture a timelapse of the celestial light show as it made a rare appearance over parts of Europe.
Dan Monk, the director of astrophotography at the Kielder Observatory, captured a timelapse of the northern lights over the UK while working in Kielder Forest in Northumberland. The footage captures hues of red, yellow, and green.
Recalling the rare experience, he said, “It was amazing really, it was one of the best displays I’ve seen for a while in Northumberland.”