There’s nothing quite like the Northern Lights, but the reason night owls from coast to coast have seen the Aurora Borealis more recently could alter your next viewing experience.
If you’re among the many who have noticed an uptick in displays over the last few years, know that it’s not a coincidence! Right now, we’re actually in the thick of something remarkable that could actually mess with Earth’s electrical grid.
The Northern lights dazzled Albertans last night & there’s still a chance to see them (PHOTOS)
The Northern Lights could be visible across Canada this weekend & here’s what to know
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We spoke to Dr. David Milling, an FSO for the Faculty of Physics at the University of Alberta to better understand what has been happening in our solar system recently and what we learnt was eye-opening.
Though watching shades of green dance across our sky may promote a sense of calm, they’re actually caused by a chaotic collision of sun particles and gas from our atmosphere.
The more active the sun is, the more likely people along the border are able to see the flashes of colour and right now, the sun is going kind of going through a bit of a ‘phase.’
According to Dr. Milling, every 11 years, the sun will act out, kind of like you did after the first time you heard My Chemical Romance.
“Within 11 years, you can go through a peak, through a minimum, then back to a peak,” he explains.
“They’re just like temperature fluctuations.”
During these cycles, the sun is extremely energetic and solar winds are caught in Earth’s magnetic field which can cause more Southern Auroras and – in some cases, interruptions for those using technology – which is nearly everyone.
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From damaged satellites to system failure, we’ve seen some pretty wild things happen as a result of elevated solar activity – so though the Northern Lights are pretty, they could indicate interference.
This will be even more likely as we near 2025, which is when our neighbouring star will be most active this time around.
“As we increasingly rely on technology, our vulnerability to these things is actually quite significant and of course, it’s like earthquakes, we can’t predict when the next big one will happen.”
Luckily, the University of Alberta has been doing some incredible work in collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency in order to further understand these events.
“We are involved in a new mission to build a new satellite to measure these things and their effect on the upper atmosphere of the earth,” he explained.
“Specifically we’re targeting solar maximum for the launch.”
As always we’ll keep you updated as more information rolls out about this particular project, but until then – enjoy the show – just be ready, Canada.
It’s going to be an interesting few years!
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