In the night from 26 to 27 September in Belarus with the naked eye you can see the northern lights. To see the faint colored, gradually shimmering pillars of light, it was enough to leave the city, which does not prevent smog and light pollution. The forum belastro.net there were pictures of this rather rare for our latitude atmospheric phenomena.
For comments, we turned to Alexei Tkachenko, member of the Astronomical Club "Al-nude" Minsk planetarium.
— What is the aurora?
— When the Earth enters the ejection of solar plasma, the charged plasma particles interact with the magnetic field of the Earth, and the protons and electrons as if "drain" on the magnetic lines of the Earth's magnetic poles, which are not too far from the geographic poles, but they do not coincide with them.
However, on the approach to the Earth, where it starts a noticeable atmosphere, flying at high speed charged particles encounter the molecules in the atmosphere, "beating out" of these molecules, electrons (ionization). Themselves particles lose energy cosmic wind so that the surface they are not dangerous.
However, the ionized molecule can not last long, and it captures either free electrons ejected from this or other molecules, or "pulls" an electron from a neighboring molecule in a collision with it. This releases a photon. Since the energy of all the electrons in the molecules of the same gas remains constant, and the energy of photons is the same. A man of such a flux of energy perceived as a glow of color.
Each gas in the atmosphere is responsible for its color: red-pink glow provides nitrogen, green — oxygen. Other emission lines is much weaker or are beyond the visible spectrum of light.
— Many people are surprised by the fact that the aurora can be seen even in Belarus. Do all countries are so lucky?— Aurora — a phenomenon in the atmosphere, which occurs near the magnetic poles, and therefore visible only at high latitudes. In principle, at latitudes Belarus (about 50 degrees latitude) can be arbitrarily draw the line, south of which lights are rare. The same situation in the Southern Hemisphere: north of 50 degrees south latitude auroras are extremely improbable.— How often you can see the northern lights with us?
— This is observed in Belarus is not the first time. This year, the northern lights were registered in Belarus for the second time: the first was on the night of 5 to 6 August. Prior to that, the aurora was seen in 2003, after the previous solar maximum. Solar activity period is 11 years.
— How long usually takes shine?
— From several hours to several days. During the day, of course, it is not visible because of the sunlight. Depends on the intensity of the solar flare.
Pictures taken by amateur astronomers on the night of 5 to 6 August: