Colors in the Atmosphere

By: Yuichi Takasaka


Region: Americas

Site: Northwest Territories - Canada

Date: April 2012

A bright display of aurora borealis is photographed over Yellowknife, northern Canada. This curtain of color extends vertically through the atmosphere; its nearly vertical rays trace out the Earth's magnetic field lines and point toward the magnetic zenith. The red light is created by glowing oxygen more than 200 km above our planetís surface, while the green originates much lower―only about 100 km up. The purple originates with nitrogen. Yuichi Takasaka/

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