Top 5 Facts: The Northern Lights
1. The neighbours have them too
Other planets including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and many of their moons have their very own aurorae.
2. Solar music makers
The massive electrical activity of the northern lights transmits eerie crackling and whistling noises over radio receivers.
3. Biggest display ever
A massive magnetic disturbance back in 1989 caused visible aurarae as far as Texas and even Northern Australia.
4. The ‘stuff’ of space
A phenomenal 99 per cent of visible matter in the universe is actually made up of plasma of one sort or another.
5. Pole dancing
The North and South Poles have switched places 400 times in the past 330 million years, the last occurrence being 780,000 years ago.
If you’re looking at the mysterious ring on this photo of the northern lights over the Earth and wondering what the heck it is, we have the answer. It’s the Manicouagan crater in Quebec, Canada. It is around 70km across and is thought to have been caused by an asteroid impact over 200 million years ago during the Triassic geological period. It has been photographed from space several times – this picture was taken by astronaut Donald Pettit aboard the International Space Station in 2003. The crater is occupied by a lake and a central island, so viewed from above it has a distinctive ring shape which has led to it being called the “Eye of Quebec”.