WX Wise: Aurora Borealis

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Here in Montana we sometimes are subject to an amazing light show from the north.

These glimpses of the Aurora Borealis brighten the sky with colors including: red, yellow, pink, green, and blue.

But have you ever wondered why this natural wonder occurs?

The atmosphere is made up of multiple distinct layers and the formation of the Aurora Borealis occurs in the thermosphere.

In addition, the magnetic fields that surround the earth direct charged particles from space toward either pole.

With these charge particles flying into the thermosphere, they often hit atoms already present resulting in the great displays of the Aurora Borealis to the north and the Aurora Australis to the south.

In order to forecast this phenomenon though, one must study space weather and anticipate an influx in space particles entering our atmosphere.

Lucky for us, the hard part is already done and forecasts are often provided online with an aurora zone or band across a certain region.

Even with these forecasts, the environment must also behave in order to catch a glimpse.

If cloud cover is thick or if you are near areas of light pollution, then the chances of seeing the northern lights are much harder.

And now...you're a little more weather wise.

Story by AUSTIN WINFIELD, Beartooth NBC.
Sponsored by Collision Pro of Helena.
Copyright ©2014 Beartooth Communications Company. All Rights Reserved.

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Weather Wise, Weather, Aurora Borealis

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