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Watch the Northern Lights; Northern Canada

The aurora borealis – also known as the “Northern Lights” –  is an uncommonly beautiful tapestry of color spread across Northern Canada. Reds, greens, blues and whites all stream across the night skies; sometimes like faint wisps, other times an explosion of color all seemingly from a central point.

What causes such a display?

Its origin has been argued for centuries. Originally thought to be produced by the sun’s reflection on ice (sort of like an extreme rainbow), popular consensus shifted to the collision of gas particles between the sun and earth’s atmosphere.

The different colors represent various gases: low atmospheric oxygen- roughly 60 miles (97km) from earth’s surface –  produces yellow, while high altitude oxygen produces red and nitrogen produces blue.

Other interesting – though entirely implausible – theories include vapors from ore deposits, reflections from campfires and the spirits of local hunters and/or animals. Continue