• Question: Why are the northern lights only at the north pole?

    Asked by Scarlett to Nicolas on 19 Jun 2017.
    • Photo: Nicolas Labrosse

      Nicolas Labrosse answered on 19 Jun 2017:

      Hi Scarlett, aurorae are most often seen at very high latitudes (North or South poles), although sometimes can be seen at lower latitudes – even down to Wales or England sometimes. The reason why they are mostly at high latitudes close to the poles is due to the shape of the magnetic field around the Earth. You can see the Earth as a giant bar magnet, with magnetic field lines going out (or in) from the poles. This is where the particles from the Sun can penetrate to low altitudes and interact with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere to create the beautiful auroras, also known as Northern lights (in the Northern hemisphere).