Northern Lights: what it is, how it appeared in Ukraine and why the sky was red

Yulia PoteriankoNews
Northern Lights: what it is, how it appeared in Ukraine and why the sky was red

On the night of November 6, some regions of Ukraine observed a phenomenon quite atypical for our geographical region - the Northern Lights. It had a bright red-raspberry color, sometimes with green stripes, and stayed in the sky for quite a long time.

OBOZ.UA figured out what caused this rare natural phenomenon. And why the glow was red.

What is the northern lights

The general term for the phenomenon is aurora borealis. It occurs in the upper layers of the planet's atmosphere under the influence of streams of charged particles that the planet's magnetic field directs to the poles. If it occurs in the Northern Hemisphere, it is called Aurora borealis (northern lights), and in the Southern Hemisphere, Aurora Australis (southern lights).

Outside the Arctic Circle, the phenomenon is observed relatively infrequently. It can be caused by a really powerful ejection of the Sun's coronal mass. Such an ejection occurred a few days ago, causing a strong geomagnetic storm, astronomer and lecturer at the Kharkiv Planetarium Volodymyr Kazhanov wrote on his Facebook page. The particles that broke away from the luminary bombarded the Earth's atmosphere so intensely that the northern lights could be seen in many countries in the northern hemisphere. In particular, in Ukraine.

Why the glow was red

As Andriy Zalizovsky, head of the Department of Radio Physics and Geocosmos at the Radio Astronomy Institute of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, explained to Suspilne, the color of the glow is determined by which ions or atoms are excited in the atmosphere. "Red is exactly the color produced by atomic oxygen in the ionosphere. Each kind of molecule, when it is excited and then returns to its normal state, emits its own wavelength and color. At what height, which molecules or atoms are excited by the particles falling out of the tail of the magnetosphere, we see this color," the scientist said.

He also explained that in order for the aurora to become visible, it is necessary for the coronal solar masses to penetrate the atmosphere at night. Then you can see the beautiful light radiation in the night sky. In November, the nights are quite long, and the other day there was a powerful geomagnetic storm on the Sun, so all the circumstances came together and the phenomenon could be observed in Ukraine.

Zalizovsky also gave hope to those who missed the bright celestial show this time. As we are now approaching the peak of solar activity, such emissions will occur quite often and the aurora will be seen in Ukraine several times a year. In general, the northern lights in the sky over our country can be seen on average once a year.

As OBOZ.UA wrote, in 2023, Ukrainians could see the northern lights at least twice. At the end of April, when it was seen by residents of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv regions, and at the end of September in Kharkiv region.

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