California Aurora

March 19, 2002


Provided by: Thad V'Soske
Summary authors & editors: Thad V'Soske

With the appearance of a distant forest fire, this red sky color is actually an extremely rare display of the aurora borealis as seen from Mt. Laguna in southern California. This event on 11/05/2001 was triggered by a very powerful explosion on the Sun that directed a mass of energetic particles at Earth via the solar wind. These particles, drawn towards Earth's magnetic poles, interact with elements of our planet's upper atmosphere - out where the Space Shuttle flies. The red color in this aurora image is the result of charged particles interracting with oxygen molecules, causing them to glow.

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