Posts Tagged ‘atmosphere’

The Aurora

glow in the northern (aurora borealis) or the southern (aurora australis) sky caused by particles from the solar wind interacting with the atmosphere. The particles are held in the Van Allen belts. When there is a solar flare, there is a huge increase in the density of the Solar wind. This overloads the Van Allen belts and causes high energy particles to spill into the atmosphere. As these interact with the gases of the atmosphere, light of different wavelengths is emitted and we see this as an aurora.

Book: The nature of the Aurora was worked out by the Norwegian Scientist Kristian Berkeland. I was riveted by the book Northern Lights, an account of how the mysteries of the Aurora were unravelled and learn about the man who invented a weapon developed in the USA’s SDI (Star Wars) early in the twentieth century.

Atmospheric Refraction

This is the bending of light the Earth’s atmosphere. This causes an increase in the apparent height (altitude) of an object above the horizon. This increase is zero at the zenith (because the observer is looking out from the Earth at 90 degrees) to about half a degree (the width of the full Moon) at the horizon.

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