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Northern lights brighten up Canadian skies

Thursday, September 5th 2019, 2:45 pm - One of nature's most spectacular light shows brightened up skies in southern Canada over the weekend.

Recent geomagnetic storm activity created a spectacular light show across southern portions of Canada over the weekend, with visibility extending as far south as Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont, and Maine, according to the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Barry Burgess, Brooklyn Hants County Nova Scotia

WHAT ARE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS?

Northern lights -- or aurora borealis -- occur when solar particles collide with the Earth's atmosphere. Their colour variety results from the presence of different types of gas particles in the atmosphere as well as the wavelength of light that's emitted, according to NASA.

Chris Lahoda, Cariboo, B.C.

Two of the most common elements in the Earth's atmosphere -- oxygen and nitrogen -- create different types of northern lights. Oxygen is responsible for green and yellowish-green auroras. Blue, purple and reddish-purple auroras are rare in comparison. They're created with the help of nitrogen.

Greg Marche, Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

WHAT IS NITROGEN?

Nitrogen plays an important role in the life of plants and animals on Earth. We usually refer to the air we breathe as "oxygen", but nitrogen is another common element in our air, making up about 80 per cent of our planet's atmosphere.

Matthew Burik, Wabowden, Manitoba,

It was first isolated by Scottish chemist Daniel Rutherford in 1772 and given the name "nitrogen" by French chemist Jean-Antoine Chaptal in 1790. Nitrogen is used to make fertilizers, nitric acid, and explosives. It is also used in the production of stainless steel and incandescent light bulbs.

VIDEO: BEAUTIFUL AURORA BOREALIS TIMELAPSE

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