The Difference Between Southern And Northern Lights

If you are wondering if there is any difference between the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights, this page is designed to give you the answer. The Aurora Borealis, in the North, and the Aurora Australis, in the South, are two of the most exciting spectacles you can witness on earth. Today we will look at what exactly these Northern and Southern Lights are and what the differences are between them. This article aims to answer several general questions that people have about auroras.

Both the Northern and Southern Lights have been capturing the imagination of people for centuries. These beautiful light displays can be witnessed in the far reaches of both hemispheres. They are both spectacular and entrancing. You tend to find that the Aurora Borealis, in the North, gets more publicity, but the fact is that the Southern Lights can be just as impressive.


What's The Difference Between the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights?

First of all let’s get straight to the point. Other than geographical location, there really is no difference between the Northern Lights and the Southern Lights. They both take place over the polar regions and are basically the same phenomenon. Although if you see either of the displays you are witnessing the same thing, there are reasons why the Northern Lights tends to be a lot more popular and far easier to see.

That Being said, Nikolai Østgaard and Karl Magnus Laundal, both of the University of Bergen in Norway, reported in the journal Nature that “...we report observations that clearly contradict the common assumption about symmetric aurora: intense spots are seen at dawn in the Northern summer Hemisphere, and at dusk in the Southern winter Hemisphere,” they write. “The asymmetry is interpreted in terms of inter-hemispheric currents related to seasons, which have been predicted but hitherto had not been seen.” Their report was based on observations from new global imaging cameras at each pole. The authors suggest that this asymmetry confirms the existence of inter-hemispheric field-aligned currents related to the seasons. This had been predicted by a few scientists, but it had never before been observed. Nevertheless, this is not something that's going to be noticeable to you or me, and both Auroras are caused by the same natural phenomenon.

Around the Northern Arctic, Canada, Alaska, Greenland, Norway, Russia, and a few other places stretch high into the Arctic Circle, where the Aurora is most active. Due to this fact, there are lots of places you can go to view the lights. There are a lot of settlements located far enough North that people can go to see the Aurora Borealis on quite a regular basis. However, in the Southern Hemisphere it is a very different story. The Antarctic is surrounded by open water, there are very few land masses and even fewer populated areas. This makes catching a glimpse of the Aurora Australis far more difficult.

When you look online you can find lots of articles and pictures of the Northern Lights, whereas the Southern Lights tend to get far less press coverage. Your best bet for viewing the Aurora in the South is to hop on a cruise ship and head down as far as they will take you. That said, you can view the lights from places such as New Zealand, Argentina, and The Falklands. But more often than not, if people want to view the Aurora, they tend to head North.


What Is the Aurora Borealis and the Aurora Australis?

Definition: The Aurora Borealis is a natural electrical phenomenon characterized by the appearance of streamers of reddish or greenish light in the sky, usually near the northern or southern magnetic pole.


Why Do Auroras Happen?