This 2008 image, taken in Antarctica, capture's Earth's atmosphere in a St. Paddy's Day mood. Aurora australis, the southern lights, are caused by solar wind passing through the upper atmosphere. The southern lights are seen less often than aurora borealis, the northern lights, because few people brave Antarctica's dark, freezing winters. In the summer, when research scientists descend on the continent, almost-constant daylight overpowers the atmospheric display.
The northern lights illuminate the sky in this image captured by photographer Nate Bolt during a flight from San Francisco to Paris. Bolt set up his camera in an empty seat facing a window and snapped more than 2,400 shots during the 11-hour flight. A time-lapse video of the flight can be seen at beepshow.com.
Norwegian photographer and skywatcher Terje Sorgjerd created an amazing video of the March 2011 auroras, or northern lights, which appear in this still from his project, entitiled "The Aurora.”
Take a minute to oooh and aaah. In this composite photograph, the northern lights, or aurora, reflect off Jökulsárlón, a glacial lake in Iceland. Photographer Stephane Vetter stitched together six photographs to make this image, which reveals the band of the Milky Way galaxy, the Pleiades star cluster and the Andromeda Galaxy in the night sky. The photo took first place in 2011's Second International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.
[Related: Photos: Contest Showcases Night Sky Sparkle]
Northern lights lit up the sky after researchers completed their fieldwork near Kevo, in the northernmost Finnish province of Lappi (Finnish Lapland).
Also called auroras, northern lights form when charged particles flow from the sun in a kind of "solar wind" and enter Earth's magnetic field, revving up electrically charged particles trapped there. "The high-speed particles then crash into Earth's upper atmosphere over the polar regions, causing the atmosphere to emit a ghostly, multicolored glow," according to NASA. [Photos: Auroras Dazzle Northern Observers]
Intense northern lights on the Reykjavik coast, Iceland.
Bright aurora borealis flash over Southern Iceland, in February 2011.
Northern lights shimmer over Iceland.
One of the nice and powerful aurora displays near Fairbanks, Alaska, November 2005.
Aurora borealis turns the skies pink over the Copper Center in Alaska.
Intense aurora borealis shine in moonlit night being mirrored on Lake Laberge, Yukon Territory, Canada.
Skywatchers at high latitudes can expect spectacular aurora borealis displaysin the skies tonight (Aug. 5) thanks to a strong solar flare that hurled a cloud of plasma toward Earth on Aug. 2. The flare occurred when an intense magnetic event above sunspot 1261 hurled a stream of charged particles that's now headed toward Earth, according to SpaceWeather.com.
Also known as the Northern Lights, the aurora light show is the result of the interaction of these charged particles with Earth's magnetic field.
The image above, taken by instruments onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, shows a powerful M9-class solar flare that erupted from the sun at 10:09 p.m. EDT on July 29 (0209 GMT July 30). M-Class flares are medium-strength events. The strongest type of solar eruption is class X, while class C represents the weakest, on the scale. The Aug. 2 flare registered as a middleclass M1 event. [Read more at SPACE.com]
A NASA rocket launched Dec. 12 from Norway to study the mysterious northern lights. This photo of the RENU launch was taken from downtown Andenes, Norway.
Composite image of Saturn shows the entire planet, including the rings as seen by NASA's Cassini spacecraft from the south. The green glow represents aurora lights.
The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, surround the bright full moon over Fairbanks, Alaska.