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The science behind the world's greatest natural light show

Monday, December 2nd 2019, 1:26 pm - Point of Viewer is an ongoing Weather Network feature where we explore Canada through your photos and videos. Check back often for new videos and scroll down to see how you can get involved.

You can see the northern lights – or aurora borealis – year-round in Canada, but the best time to spot them is in the winter.

That’s because December through March offers some of the darkest skies of the year, and auroras are the easiest to spot in low light.

12410480 Trevor Pottelberg, Britt, On Trevor Pottelberg, Britt, Ontario

20422584 Ryan Compton, Inuvik, NT Ryan Compton, Inuvik, NT

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.

25252450 Francis Anderson, Tuktoyaktuk, NT Francis Anderson, Tukyoyaktuk, NT

33946138 Christy Turner Acme, AB Christy Turner, Acme, Alta

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.

30699982 Richard Boose Elliot Lake Ontario Richard Boose, Elliot Lake, Ontario

So keep your eyes to the sky. If the conditions are right, you might catch a glimpse of this natural wonder.

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