You Can Watch The Northern Lights Online Via Live Stream
As we navigate through a confusing (but hugely necessary) period of widespread social distancing, many of us have had to come up with alternative ways to go about our day-to-day lives.
From restaurants and cafes turning to a takeaway-only business model to friends having to meet up at virtual pubs online rather than going to their local, people are find unique ways to make do with our new circumstances.
And it seems the same applies to travel, too; while we won't be having any holidays for some time yet, there is at least a way of seeing the world, thanks to the joys of technology.
A trip to see the Northern Lights is off the cards right now, but thanks to a live stream being fed from the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Manitoba, Canada, we can still check out the incredible light show from the comfort of our own homes.
The feed is available to watch here via Explore.org and Polar Bears International, and, even from afar, it's pretty damn impressive.
The Explore.org website explains: "Located at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre in Churchill, Manitoba, this live cam is located directly underneath the aurora oval - one of the best places on Earth to watch the aurora borealis, the spectacular atmospheric phenomenon better known as the Northern Lights."
According to the Explore.org, the display occurs year-round, but are 'better observed during the winter when the Arctic is dark for most of the day and the sky is clear'.
Late winter and early spring are often considered the best times of year to catch the aurora, meaning March is a good bet to catch the spectacle in action - which is handy, given that you're probably sat around doing very little right now.
The website explains: "Northern Lights is the common name for the aurora borealis, or a luminous display visible when the earth's magnetic fields interact with charged particles from the sun.
"These lights can be seen above both poles; the southern lights are called 'aurora australis'."
The sun emits various particles into our solar system, especially during 'solar flares'.
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Some of the particles are electrically charged and blown in solar wings towards Earth; while most are deflected by our natural magnetosphere, some particles enter the atmosphere at the poles, which is where the magnetosphere is at its weakest.
The Northern Lights happen when these electrically charged particles collide with the oxygen and nitrogen in the earth's upper atmosphere - and when loads of these collisions take place all at once, the oxygen and nitrogen emit enough light for the eye to detect.
"Most of the light comes from altitudes of 60-200 miles!" Explore.org says.
According to theaurorazone.com, as a naturally occurring phenomenon, the appearance of the Northern Lights is 'notoriously difficult to predict any further in advance than about two hours before it happens'.
It advises: "First and foremost, to see the Northern Lights, the skies must be dark. This immediately rules out daylight hours and, contrary to popular opinion, it is not pitch black in the Aurora Zone for the entire winter.
"Indeed, despite the sun not appearing above the horizon, even the shortest day, 21 December, brings three to four hours of grey/blue light which renders the Northern Lights invisible to the naked eye.
"Once darkness falls, the Aurora can be visible at any time of day and we have seen them as early as 4pm and as late as 6am (that was quite a night!). Nevertheless, the optimum time seems to be around 9.30pm to 1am and that is when we concentrate the majority of our searches."
Failing that, the Explore.org feed regularly streams highlights footage, meaning you don't have to be stuck waiting for hours on end.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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