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The Appearance of Northern Lights in India – A Rare Sight

7 mins. read

The Aurora Borealis, or polar lights, is an awe-inspiring natural phenomenon that has been fascinating people for centuries now. This is a spectacular, colourful display of light that can be seen in the night sky only at a few places on Earth. Since it is witnessed in the area near the North Pole, it is also known as the northern lights. During this amazing natural occurrence, the night sky gets filled with vivid colours, including green, pink, purple, blue, etc. With these colourful light waves dancing throughout the sky, this is definitely a sight to behold. Also referred to as the greatest light show on earth due to its sheer beauty, the Aurora Borealis is on almost every person’s travel bucket list. Every year, thousands of people visit countries near the North Pole to witness this.

A Closer Look

This is a well-known fact that the Aurora Borealis is a rare and unpredictable celestial spectacle. Now there is one question that comes to almost everyone’s mind while talking about this natural light show: what causes the northern lights? Here is the answer:

This is a natural occurrence that is caused by the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and charged particles (electrons and protons) from the sun. These charged particles collide with gases in the planet’s upper atmosphere, producing tiny flashes of colourful light. The green and red colour lights are caused by the presence of oxygen, whereas the blue and purple lights are caused by nitrogen. The reason why these flashes appear to be moving or dancing in the sky is because billions of flashes occur in sequence in a short span of time. These lights are projected in several different shapes, such as scattered clouds, patches, shooting rays, arcs, and many more.

Since the Earth has a strong magnetic field, it steers the charged particles from the Sun towards the poles. This leads to the creation of two auroral ovals right above the North and South Poles. As a result, a stunning array of colourful lights gets emitted into the night sky.

Best Time to Witness the Northern Lights

Since the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, is a naturally occurring phenomenon, there is no way to predict its appearance in advance. It can occur at any time of the year. This display of colourful lights is triggered by the collision between the Sun’s charged particles and Earth’s magnetic field. This means that these occurrences majorly depend on solar activity. They are more likely to occur close to the equinoxes, in late March and late September. So, if you are planning a trip to someplace near the North Pole, it is best to pick a time around the equinox. This increases your chances of being able to witness this beautiful natural light show.

Northern Lights in India

The northern lights, as the name suggests, are only confined to the North Pole region. Some of the popular destinations that offer ideal vantage points include Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Alaska, etc. However, in a rare event, the Aurora Borealis, or northern lights, dazzled the night sky in Ladakh on 22nd and 23rd April, 2023. This natural phenomenon was not only witnessed in India but also got captured on camera for the very first time. The Indian Astronomical Observatory, situated above Mount Saraswati, managed to click a few pictures of this rare sight. Operated by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA), this observatory is located at an approximate height of 3,000 metres above sea level. It is extremely impossible to witness the northern lights at such a low altitude.

The northern lights in Ladakh were triggered by an intense geomagnetic storm that struck the Earth’s magnetic field. This caused a collision between the charged particles from the sun and the atoms & molecules in the Earth's atmosphere. This interaction between these particles led to the rare occurrence of the northern lights in Leh, Ladakh. The last time the northern lights were witnessed in Ladakh was in 2015. This was also caused by a high-intensity geomagnetic storm.

Lesser-known Facts about the Northern Lights

Lesser known Facts about the Northern Lights

Here are a few fun facts about this natural phenomenon:

  • Aurora Borealis, a common term used for this natural phenomenon, was first coined in 1619. It has been derived from two different words: Aurora, the name of the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas, the Greek name for the north wind.
  • The first person to explain the concept behind the Aurora Borealis was Kristian Birkeland, a Norwegian scientist. He established a connection between the Sun and the Earth and formed a clear scientific theory for this.
  • The oldest known record of the Aurora Borealis dates back to 2600 BC. It was witnessed for the very first time in China by Fu-Bao, who was the mother of Huang Di, also called the Yellow Emperor.
  • Although the northern lights are a combination of several bright colours, red and green are among the most common of all of them.
  • Earth is not the only planet to experience this phenomenon. Auroras occur on several other planets in our solar system, including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Mars. Like the earth’s aurora, these lights can be witnessed only in areas close to those planets’ magnetic poles.
  • The northern lights have also been listed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Despite not being the usual place for the occurrence of the Northern Lights, Leh, Ladakh, still witnessed this rare sight. This is also the reason why the Aurora Borealis is known as one of the most unpredictable phenomena. Given the geographical location of Ladakh, this place has the highest chance of experiencing such a rare occurrence in the future as well. If another geomagnetic storm hits the planet in the future, leading to the appearance of the northern lights in India, Ladakh is most likely to be that place.

Apart from this, there are several other things that make Ladakh one of the most sought-after tourist destinations in India. Often referred to as Little Tibet, this place enthrals a large number of visitors throughout the year. If you are also planning a trip anytime soon, explore Veena World’s extensive range and find a suitable Leh Ladakh sightseeing package.

July 07, 2023


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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