aurora, new discoveries, solar cycle, sun

What Are Auroras, and Why Do They Come in Different Shapes and Colors?

Over millennia, humans have observed and been inspired by beautiful displays of light bands dancing across dark night skies. Today, we call these lights auroras: the aurora borealis in the northern hemisphere and the aurora australis in the south. Nowadays, we understand these are caused by charged particles from Earth’s magnetosphere and the solar wind ...

Troy Oakes

An aurora borealis.

Earliest Record of a Candidate Aurora Found in Chinese Annals

A celestial event mentioned in an ancient Chinese text turns out to be the oldest known reference to a candidate aurora, predating the next oldest one by some three centuries, according to a recent study by Marinus Anthony van der Sluijs, an independent researcher based in Canada, and Hisashi Hayakawa from Nagoya University. This finding ...

Troy Oakes

Fragment of the Bamboo Annals.

Mysterious STEVE Light Emissions Emanate From Earth’s Magnetosphere

For years, amateur aurora watchers from Canada have noticed mysterious streaks of pale purple and green light that seemed to dance across the nighttime sky. But it wasn’t until 2016 that they shared their colorful images with scientists, who soon identified the light show as a new type of upper-atmosphere phenomenon that was jokingly named ...

Troy Oakes


New Kind of Aurora Is Not an Aurora at All

Thin ribbons of purple and white light that sometimes appear in the night sky were dubbed a new type of aurora when brought to scientists’ attention in 2016. But new research suggests these mysterious streams of light are not an aurora at all, but an entirely new celestial phenomenon. Amateur photographers had captured the new ...

Troy Oakes