Since the beginning of time, people have told stories and legends to explain natural, but mysterious, occurrences. The Northern Lights is one example. The Vikings thought the Northern Lights were caused by the shining weaponry of immortal warriors. The Alaskan Inuit people believed the lights were the souls of salmon, deer and other animals. The Menominee Indians thought the lights were the torches of giants living in the North.
The Northern Lights are actually caused by electrons from solar winds. They are attracted to the poles by the magnetic fields found there. They mix with gases in the atmosphere, causing the gases to glow. Solar flares can also cause the Northern Lights to appear.
Fun Facts about the Northern Lights for Kids
- The name Aurora Borealis, another title for the Northern Lights, come from two ancient names. Aurora is the Roman god of the dawn; Boreas is the Greek name for the north wind.
- The Northern Lights are most visible to people living in the far north. They are sometimes visible as far south as Florida.
- The Northern Lights are typically green, purple, red or blue.
- Near the South Pole, people may see the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis. These lights are not as easily visible.
The Northern Lights Vocabulary
- Legend: a story passed down from generation to generation; may contain some truth
- Mysterious: difficult to understand or explain
- Occurrences: happenings
- Weaponry: weapons
- Torch: a fiery light placed on a stick
Learn More All About the Northern Lights
This is the best video we found for kids to learn about the Northern Lights:
This is a video about how the Northern Lights are created.
The Northern Lights Q&A
Question: Do the Northern Lights appear only in winter?
Answer: The Northern Lights can appear any time, but you’re most likely to see them between March and April and September and October– chilly months in the far north.
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