TIMELAPSE: Northern Lights from the International Space Station

The European Space Agency (ESA) shared a timelapse video on Tuesday of the Aurora borealis, or northern lights, as seen from the International Space Station. The video was compiled from still images taken by ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti aboard the station. She is living and working on board as part of the 6-strong crew.

PHOTOS – May 12 Northern Lights in Minnesota and Wisconsin

What are the Northern Lights?

The Aurora Borealis is a result of collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres. We mainly see the Northern Lights in a hue of green, but shades of red, yellow, green, blue, and violet have been reported.

Like the neon light glowing on the Vegas Strip, the Earth's protective atmosphere also glows when these solar particles hit the gasses that surround our planet. with charged particles released from the sun's atmosphere. Variations in color are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding.

The most common color, a pale yellowish-green, is produced by oxygen molecules located about 60 miles above the earth. Rare, all-red auroras are produced by high-altitude oxygen, at heights of up to 200 miles. Nitrogen produces blue or purplish-red aurora. So, I guess it's the luck of the draw as to what you will see.

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