Winter in Alaska is a magical time, and one of the things that makes it most magical are the northern lights, or Aurora Borealis. In Alaska, the aurora is only seen from August until April, because there is too much daylight to see it during the summer months. But during the long, cold, and dark winters, there are guarantees of marvelous displays nearly every night of the week. As long as the weather is cooperative, those closest to the Arctic Circle stand the best chance of seeing it. The reason being helps to explain the science behind the aurora.
Our sun is a giant ball of fire, which is very active with constant explosions of energy that send particles out into space. Headed in all directions, including toward earth, these particles are electrically charged. As these charged particles travel past, they are drawn to earth&'s magnetic poles. They form a ring of waving color at both the north and south poles of the earth, so those closest to the poles are more likely to see it. In the northern hemisphere, they are called Aurora Borealis. In the southern hemisphere, they are called Aurora Australis.
The wonderful colors "dance" as the electrically charged particles are excited by the magnetic energy of the earth. It's sort of like a water droplet dancing on hot oil in a pan. Sometimes there will be 'green rainbows', which are bands of green which arc across the sky and appear not to move. Other times, when the particles are more excited, the ribbon whips and moves something like water flowing over rocks in a stream, or like the tail of a kite in the wind.
It is no wonder people throughout history have described these displays as magical. Alaskans are very fortunate to see aurora more frequently than many others in the world, and yet it still holds an excitement and appeal for even those who have witnessed them many times. There are over 6,000 images in this video display, which were taken on a very windy New Year's Eve in 2015 outside Delta Junction, Alaska. You will see trees dart back and forth while the aurora moves above them. Sit back and enjoy the wonder and magic of the Aurora Borealis, as it ushers in a new year!