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18 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) 

Katherine Ripley
8.3k views 18 items

Surely you've heard of the aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. It's probably one of the most visually stunning scientific phenomenons there is, but do you know why it happens, or what makes it so colorful and spectacular? This list is full of aurora borealis facts that you probably didn't know. It explains how, where, and when these lights happen, and much more about their properties and their history.

The aurora borealis pictures on this list are also stunning. You'll be ready to pack your bags and head to the Arctic to see the lights for yourself. But be sure to finish reading the list first for some helpful hints on the best times to catch them.
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It's Named After a Greek God and a Roman Goddess
It's Named After a Greek... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list 18 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Photo: Internet Archive Book Images/flickr/No known copyright restrictions
Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn who used her torch to wake the world every morning. The second part of the name, "Borealis," comes from Boreas, the Greek god of the north wind.
It Was Named by Galileo (Possibly)
It Was Named by Galileo ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list 18 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Photo:  Fondo Antiguo de la Universidad de Sevilla/via Flickr
Many believe that Galileo was the first to name this phenomenon "aurora borealis." However, some credit Pierre Gassendi, a less well-known 17th century philosopher and astronomer, with the name.
It's Been Studied Since Aristotle's Time
It's Been Studied Since ... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list 18 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Photo: Michael/flickr/CC-BY-NC 2.0
Whether it was first named by Galileo or Gassendi, the aurora borealis was fascinating intellectuals long before it got its modern name. Aristotle was one of the first thinkers to try to explain the phenomenon. It's also provoked the curiosity of Descartes, Tycho de Brahe, and Benjamin Franklin.
It Can Cause Radio Interference
It Can Cause Radio Inter... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list 18 Amazing Things You Didn't Know About The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
Photo:  greenzowie/via Flickr
The sun particles that cause the aurora borealis can also cause radio interference. During solar storms, people have noticed effects on satellites and other electronic equipment.