The spectacular Northern Lights were shining brightly in Lethbridge on Sunday evening. They are also known as the Aurora Borealis. Video Journalist Micah Quinn chatted with staff from the Lethbridge Astronomy Society about the beautiful lights and why our city is seeing more of these amazing displays in the night sky.
We chatted with Tom Anderson, the president of the society, about why Lethbridge is experiencing such frequent bouts of the northern lights.
“The reason for that is that the sun goes through an eleven year cycle. And what happens is every eleven years it gets more active and then it settles down, and then it gets more active again and then it settles down. We are heading into what is called a solar maximum. It will actually achieve its maximum, I think it’s 2025 now. What’s a solar maximum? Well, the sun gets more active, we get more sun spots. If you have the right equipment and you look at the sun, you will see more sun spots as we approach the maximum. And the other thing that happens is we see more what are called coronal mass ejections, which are huge solar flares. And you can see here is where we’re seeing a coronal mass ejection. That sun that I showed you is 110 times the diameter of the Earth. So these mass ejections are many, many times as big as the size of the total Earth. And what happens is, if one of these happens to be aimed at the Earth, there’s a stream of particles that get streamed outwards towards the Earth. It takes about two to three days to get here. When those particles hit the atmosphere, everything lights up.”
For updates on when you can view the northern lights next you can visit https://aurorawatch.ca/