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  • Northern LIghts.

    A long time ago I was describing how the northern lights looked when I was up north in the Yukon and I mentioned the sound they made. Evan jumped all over me and insisted it was impossible for them to make any sound because of the height they occur at and basically called me a fool for thinking they made any sounds but it looks like its been proven they do make audible sounds.

    https://nunatsiaq.com/stories/articl...-you-can-hear/

    BTW....they looked fantastic!
    Location: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

  • #2
    I can confirm that the northern lights sometime make sounds. About 50 years ago I was working in northern British Columbia and when the northern lights were particularly strong you could here a sound from them providing you were in a very quiet place.
    Larry - west coast of Canada

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    • #3
      My first reaction to the lights generating sound was just that. The sound is generated and possibly not local to where the light is. Now, I know nothing about Northern Lights so it's pure speculation. Thinking that the lights occur when radiation from the sun strikes the high atmosphere, I wonder how sound could even be generated in that rarefied air. But suppose that it's not the light generating the sound but the radiation striking the more dense air at a lower altitude. ???? It's a fascinating curiosity.
      DanK

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      • #4
        My dad was stationed in the Orkney isles and outer Hebrides wartime, as a kid he told me he saw the lights dozens if not hundreds of times during the war, occasionally he said they sang?, I did not know what that meant, obviously they made a sound or a sound was present, can’t see why not there must be a phenomenal amount of energy up there, never seen them myself, perhaps one day or maybe I shouldn’t wish for a bloody big solar event, I’m told it is overdue and likely to be disruptive on a global scale
        mark

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        • #5
          Apparently we had a pretty good display here in western Canada last night. I am too far south to see much any more.
          Larry - west coast of Canada

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          • #6
            I haven't seen the northern lights since I was a kid, up in Sudbury. Didn't know they made noise either.

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            • #7
              I used to work outside a lot at night in the winter months and used to see some spectacular displays, even as far south as I am in the North Okanagan Valley (south central British Columbia). Of course the odds are much better the further north one goes and the displays there of course are more frequent and vivid.
              Never heard them myself but have talked to more than one person that heard them.

              We actually had a pretty decent event last night here locally. Unfortunately no personal photos, would have been nice as they were more vivid where I'm at since I live in an area with a dark sky.
              I did manage to grab these shots from a local news source about 40 miles SW of my location. Even with all of the light pollution they still were worth a good look-see.
              Always impressive.

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              Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
              Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

              Location: British Columbia

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              • #8
                Evan jumped all over me and insisted it was impossible for them to make any sound because of the height they occur at
                Which does make sense... but... apparently there is more to it. Interestingly, of the members of this forum who live in BC, Evan was probably the northernmost in addition to being into astronomy, and would have had more opportunities to see them first hand. A bit too far south here, often too cloudy, and too much light pollution.
                "A machinist's (WHAP!) best friend (WHAP! WHAP!) is his hammer. (WHAP!)" - Fred Tanner, foreman, Lunenburg Foundry and Engineering machine shop, circa 1979

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                • #9
                  I don't see why not. If there were no atmosphere, even at that height, there would be nothing to light up when the 'solar wind' passes by. By that logic, sound could travel down to the surface of the earth. Lightning produces sound, just of a different character. I would thing that electrical currents passing through rarified atmosphere would produce anything from hissing, crackling, swishing sounds, some sorts of buzzing, etc. Because of the height it's bound to be pretty weak- but that does raise a question- how close to earth can auroral effects come?
                  I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Willy View Post
                    . . . Of course the odds are much better the further north one goes . . .
                    Which is why I am peeved that I never saw the Northern Lights when I lived in Barrow, Alaska, from mid-August to mid-November 1982. My "house" was two blocks from the shore of the Arctic Ocean. This was the view when I looked out my front door:


                    Doc Nickel lives way south of Barrow, near Anchorage I think. Maybe he has seen them.


                    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 1 photos.
                    Allan Ostling

                    Phoenix, Arizona

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                    • #11
                      I live pretty much on the 49th parallel, roughly the border between the USA and Canada. Visiting my sister one day and something catches my eye. We're sitting in the living room, lights on and curtains closed. I'm thinking ok, it's lightning- or maybe one of the street lights is going on and off. I look out, and it's probably the brightest aurora I've ever seen. We seldom get to see any of it from here. No sounds though.
                      I seldom do anything within the scope of logical reason and calculated cost/benefit, etc- I'm following my passion-

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                      • #12
                        You guys have missed the most salient point of all this............................Evan was wrong.

                        Hard to believe but there it is.
                        The shortest distance between two points is a circle of infinite diameter.

                        Bluewater Model Engineering Society at https://sites.google.com/site/bluewatermes/

                        Southwestern Ontario. Canada

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by loose nut View Post
                          You guys have missed the most salient point of all this............................Evan was wrong.

                          Hard to believe but there it is.
                          Lol yeah pretty smart guy but didn't know everything --- I know he had a pretty incredible data base on his own but sometimes also think he was just googling his arss off for allot of responses...

                          great pics Willy it really is a special phenomenon, I think I seen it in person before but don't know, too long and can't remember for sure and what i seen if i seen was just faint and a fraction of that...

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                          • #14
                            Hey - my mind ain't total mush, I remembered they made noise from way back in 1993...


                            https://youtu.be/SfIbBNuORHU

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                            • #15
                              Growing up where I did, I can confirm that Northern lights do indeed make a sound. Not a loud sound, so you need the background noise to be very silent. The closest I can think of for the sound they make is like silk bedding having a silk pillow dragged over it.----Brian
                              Brian Rupnow
                              Design engineer
                              Barrie, Ontario, Canada

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