Northern lights, southern lights: How auroras form

Larry Mowry Image
Friday, October 29, 2021
How do auroras form?
The aurora borealis and aurora australis - or Northern and Southern Lights - are among Earth's most beautiful phenomena. But how do they happen in the first place?

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The aurora borealis and aurora australis are stunning, fascinating meteorological phenomena, but how exactly do they form?

To understand the auroras, you have to start by looking at the magnetic field of the Earth. It's not a perfect sphere; there are weak points at the north and south poles.

The magnetic field mostly protects the Earth from the solar flares and solar wind that come from the sun, but when there are strong solar flares, those particles move around the magnetic field and enter the atmosphere at the polar weak spots.

As those particles move into our atmosphere, they react to the molecules in our atmosphere to create lights in green, yellow and red.