Southern Lights Look Incredible From Space (VIDEO)

southern lightsHere in the northern hemisphere, we've heard of aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, but in the southern hemisphere, they've got the aurora australis, or ... you guessed it ... the Southern Lights. The auroras only differ in their location -- the northern one can be seen near the North Pole and the southern one near the South Pole -- and they're identical in almost every other aspect. They're nature's coolest light shows. We see streaks of green waves pulse through the sky (sometimes red ones, too) when charged particles from the sun, or solar winds, collide with our earthly atoms, like oxygen and nitrogen, at high altitudes.

We've seen what the Northern Lights look like from a plane, and now we have an amazing video of the Southern Lights taken from the International Space Station as it cruised over Australia.


The video was captured on September 11, 2011 -- kind of nice to think that there was something so naturally beautiful, calm, and serene happening that day.

The Southern Lights are visible on land from Australia and New Zealand, but the Space Station's view is hard to beat. The lights look like a magical force-field hovering over and protecting Earth. On the other hand, it looks like a toxic cloud of biochemical waste that's about to let loose a storm of acid rain. Depends on how you view the world, I guess.

Auroras can take many shapes and sizes, from streaks to halos to vibrations of color, but the most common iteration is the one seen here in the video. The Southern Light show lasts in bursts of 15 to 40 minutes within a two- to three-hour period and is strongest when solar storms are at their peak, usually around the seasonal equinoxes. Thank goodness we have these videos, right? Because I can't keep up with when and where they're happening.

That said, seeing either of the polar auroras in person is definitely something I want to do before I die -- how cool are they? Seriously. Way cool.

What do you think of the video?


Photo via NASA

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