What Causes the Aurora? *suitable for home teaching*

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This article from Catalyst looks at aurora borealis caused by the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth's magnetic field. It also explains how satellites are testing thoeires of how this happens. Auroral light emission occurs at roughly 100 km altitude. Energetic electrons in the solar wind cause the emission of light from molecules and atoms in the ionosphere. Green and red auroras are due to oxygen ions. Blue light comes from singly charged nitrogen molecules.

The article is useful for illustrating topics such as the Sun's activity, magnetism, the electromagnetic spectrum or atomic structures.

This article is from Catalyst: Secondary Science Review 2012, Volume 22, Issue 3.

Catalyst is a science magazine for students aged 14-19 years. Annual subscriptions to print copies of the magazine can be purchased from Mindsets.

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