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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Let’s explore the Aurora

Green Aroura in a dark sky

Picture this, staying up in the late hours of the night, getting into a car and driving far north into the dark, and reaching a field to set up a camera in hopes of capturing something non-visible to the naked eye. Sounds like a big waste of sleep right? 

For the past few months, the darker skies have led to spectacular sights dancing among the stars as summer fades into autumn. The Northern Lights have been very active, and now is the time to see them. 

The Aurora Polaris is a phenomenon that occurs in the polar hemispheres when highly charged solar winds hit the Earth’s atmosphere. The lights occur when the winds are magnetized during the poles. This happens on both far southern and northern longitudes.

Photographers and dark-sky watchers alike gather for the incredible sights of blue, purple, and green curtains of soft light. Recently, in Michigan, many have had the chance to catch the aurora. 

When these spectacular lights flash, the geomagnetic disturbance caused as a side effect is measured on the KP scale. In short, the k-index is the measure of a magnetized storm, and the kp-index is a combined data set from all storms around to pinpoint the highest level.

Up in the night sky, one can observe the difference in KP level. The higher the number, the more the aurora will fill the sky, and the lower, the closer it will appear to the horizon line. But that being said, the phenomenon happens most frequently in the Auroral Oval. When the storms rise, the lights spill out, and seep closer to the equator. 

On a particular night around 2023’s Labor Day, residents as close as Mackinaw City could see faint blueish-green shafts gracing the stars before the moon blazed its brightest hue. 

The Aurora Polaris is a phenomenon that occurs in the polar hemispheres when highly charged solar winds hit the Earth’s atmosphere.

The colors do also have differences. In nature, the most frequent color is green. This is because the human eye is the most sensitive to green. With intense solar activity higher up into the atmosphere, the Borealis can turn red. During high solar activity, the most uncommon color is blue and purple, and also stray to lower parts of the display. Yellow and pink tend to appear with mixtures of other colors.

Sometimes, pictures of pure white lights happen across screens on the internet. There are no white northern lights, and the ones posted are very much photoshopped.

To see the phenomena for yourself, it’s highly suggested that you download a mobile KP index app to your phone. Then find a group online or in person who are in constant informed states to catch exactly when they occur. 

The lights are unpredictable, and dare I say picky. No, it does not have to be cold, but it does need to be dark. Moonless, cloudless, nights are the best environment. Perhaps seek out a dark-sky park or even drive northwards into farmlands or less light-polluted areas away from cities. 

Normally, the farther to the equator, the less visible the lights tend to be, so know that from the site it may not appear to be much. A phone will pick up much more, by shifting exposure and shutter speed settings. Then, to get the best picture, edit the photo to bring out vibrance and color.

As the autumn months draw to a close, and the winter ones grow longer, every opportunity should be jumped upon. Every person should see the light show, as it’s awe-inspiring. 

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About the Contributor
Mikayla Bush
Mikayla Bush, Staff Writer
Mikayla is a senior striving for a career in writing and artistry. She takes inspiration from books, media, nature, and even music. Camping, hiking, and running are all favorite pastimes of hers.  She also tries her darndest to deliver strong opinion-based pieces that prompt readers to question anything and everything and hope to even change some minds. What type of books does she want to write? Fantasy, sci-fi, dystopia. I can't read books accounting for the story of some average person. That's called asking a stranger for their life story. What is her favorite place to camp? A state park in the Upper Peninsula, McClain State Park, is just off the shore of Lake Superior. What's her favorite time of the year? Second fall, no not the first where it's still hot with a tiny bit of color. It needs to be cold enough that drinking hot apple cider is life-giving.

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