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Farmers Almanac
The 2016 Farmers Almanac
Farmers' Almanac

What are the Northern Lights?

The Inuits say don’t whistle, 
when the northern lights are high,
lest they swoop to earth and carry you up to the luminescent sky.
– From Labrador in Winter by poet Kate Tuthill

One of the most fascinating, dramatic and dazzling displays in the night sky is the Northern Lights, also known in northern latitudes as the Aurora Borealis, named after the Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurora, and the Greek name for north wind Boreas.

This display of fantastic colors is the reaction of energized solar winds that result in bands of light, which appear near the poles and light up the skies. They are reportedly the most visible around the equinoxes (late March and late September) because we see an increase in solar activity during these times.

The colors most often associated with the displays green, yellow, blue, violet, pink, and occasionally orange and white. Typically, when the particles collide with oxygen, yellow and green are produced. Interactions with nitrogen produce red, violet, and occasionally blue.

To view, it’s important to get a very dark night sky, with no cloud cover. And be patient!

Is it possible to take pictures of the northern lights?
If you wish to capture this phenomenon on film, the best equipment to use is a camera that permits you to make long exposures (10 seconds or more) and a tripod to hold the camera still during exposures.

If you’ve ever been lucky enough to spot this amazing phenomenon, tell us in the comments below and share your pictures with us on Facebook and Instagram!

If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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