The dark winter months means the arrival of beautiful northern lights in the more extreme areas of our world. This year, amateur astronomers helped discover a new type of northern light scientists are calling “dunes” due to their rolling, wave-like appearance.
Northern lights are kind of like clouds. There are many different varieties caused by different celestial circumstances. When a group of enthusiastic amateur astrologists collected thousands of images of the northern lights, they discovered an auroral form that was not part of the existing classification.
University of Helsinki’s Minna Palmroth worked with these groups to research and classify the new type of light.
These “dunes” are created when particles released by the sun cause oxygen atoms in our atmosphere to light up and glow. A team of citizen scientists teamed up with space researchers to find the source of the unique type of light which is thought to be in the Earth’s upper atmosphere.
This is a beautiful example of what can happen when passionate citizens and scientists team-up. Now, the group is searching across Finland to document more occurrences of the “dunes” and learn more about their formation.