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8 amazing auroras seen on Earth ... and beyond

By: Katherine Butler on July 9, 2010, 11:15 a.m.
The northern lights over Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2013

Photo: Kodachron/Flickr [CC by 2.0]

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The world's biggest light show

The flickering lights over our northern- and southern-most skies at times seem like a mystical offering. Good ole northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis) — visible 65 to 72 degrees north and south latitudes respectively — are actually just natural light shows that exist in our ionosphere.

Scientists say auroras are created when a solar wind of charged particles from the sun crashes into the Earth's upper atmosphere over the polar regions. As a result, auroras are generally spotted closer to the north or south poles. You can see them here.