Auroras Most well known as the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and Aurora Australis (Southern Lights), auroras are some of the most beautiful naturally occurring phenomenon that our planet has to offer. Earth possesses a magnetic field, basically an electric dipole (having both North and South) tilted at 11 degrees with respect to the rotational axis. Auroras are caused by radiation from the sun, known as solar wind, interacting with this magnetic field. Charged ions are produced in the sun’s corona, and are added to the solar wind. The magnetic field is strongest at Earth’s poles, and that is why auroras are typically confined to these regions. Charged particles form the sun occasionally get caught in Earth’s magnetic field as they pass by and interact. Once they are trapped in the upper atmosphere, they react with other gases and produce the famous lights. Collisions between the highly charged solar wind particles and atmospheric molecules causes energy emission, visible as light. Electrons in the molecules are excited to higher energy levels and then release photons when they fall back to lower energy levels. Each different reaction, causes by different ions colliding with air particles, causes a different color to result. For example, neutral nitrogen particles will create a purple-pink color, while ionic nitrogen results in a blue color. The most common aurora, a yellowish-green color, is causes by an ion crashing into oxygen at low altitudes.