News Release Details

Desert Sky Gazers and EAC to present “The Aurora Borealis”

Story Photo


Desert Sky Gazers and EAC to present “The Aurora Borealis”

By Jeanné Clark

THATCHER, AZ—The Desert Sky Gazers amateur astronomy club, in partnership with Eastern Arizona College’s Discovery Park Campus, will present a free, family-friendly lecture and slideshow on “The Aurora Borealis” on January 24, 2009, at 6:30 p.m. in the Jupiter Room of Discovery Park Campus. Harry Swanson, dean of Discovery Park Campus and member of the Desert Sky Gazers, will discuss the science behind the aurora as well show pictures of the lights from space and from the ground in Alaska and Canada.

The Aurora Borealis, sometimes called the “Northern Lights,” are natural light displays in the sky that are usually observed at night, particularly in the north. The effect is named after the Roman goddess of dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind, Boreas, and is regarded by many cultures to have a profound or spiritual meaning. For example, the Cree people call the lights the “Dance of the Spirits,” and the people of Scotland know them as “The Mirrie Dancers.”

These auroras are created when charged particles collide in the Earth’s magnetosphere. “Typically, they appear as a glow or “curtain” of color, but sometimes they form arcs that are constantly moving and changing. The colors of the ‘Northern Lights’ are formed by emissions of atomic oxygen, and the different gases in the Earth’s upper atmosphere can cause a wide range of different colors,” says Swanson. “The level of solar wind activity from the Sun can also influence the color of the Aurora Borealis.”

Everyone in the community is invited to come to this presentation to learn more about the lights. “Please come share in the beauty of the ‘Northern Lights,’” says Swanson. “You and your whole family will enjoy this presentation.”

For more information about this event or Discovery Park Campus, contact Swanson at 428-6260.