The eerie mysterious glow of light and hissing roar of the wind observed in the earth’s polar latitudes is called the Northern Lights aka Aurora Borealis, named after the enchanting goddess of Dawn (Aurora) and the North (Borealis.)
Folklore surrounds the amorphous undulating kaleidoscope of colors. From time to time, they appear in the night sky more beautifully when the chilly winds of fall set in. Photo: US Airforce/Strang, J.
The cryptic sound from the bright polar horizon scares and puzzles human beings for millenia. Explorer Ernest William Hawkes, in his book The Labrador Eskimo (1916) has this to say about Aurora’s mythic origin as the Eskimos have it in their tradition:
“The sky is a great dome of hard material arched over the Earth. There is a hole in it through which the spirits pass to the true heavens. Only the spirits of those who have died a voluntary or violent death, and the Raven, have been over this pathway. The spirits who live there light torches to guide the feet of new arrivals. This is the light of the Aurora. They can be seen there feasting and playing football with a walrus skull.
The whistling crackling noise which sometimes accompanies the Aurora is the voices of these spirits trying to communicate with the people of the Earth. They should always be answered in a whispering voice.”
Scientists have a better explanation for the spectacular light display in the sky. Vassilis Angelopoulos of the University of California, Los Angeles and his co-researchers in the THEMIS mission (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions during Substorms) said energy explosions are behind the bursts of light which occur a third of the way between Earth and the Moon. They are substorms, triggered by snapping “magnetic field lines” which cause the Aurora’s intriguing noises and heavenly apparition of lights. Associated Press (07/25/08, Dunn, M) =0=