We all know that the aurora borealis is a stunning display of colorful dancing lights in the sky due to Earth’s magnetic fields. But did you know that they’re technically considered a storm? And that means they get names similar to hurricanes. Now, that naming is open to the public, giving you the chance to own a piece of natural history.
“There are so many northern lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named,” Rauno Posio from Visit Arctic Europe told Departures in a statement. “This way, they get their own identities, and it’s easier to communicate about them.”
How does it work exactly? Well, the northern lights are geomagnetic storms that occur when sun storms send strong gusts of charged solar particles towards the Earth. From now on, when solar activity such as solar flares, coronal mass ejections, and high-speed solar wind exceed a certain level, the Space Weather Prediction Centre will collect the data, and the predicted aurora is named.
Much like hurricanes, the Aurora is named using a variating system. A Finnish, Swedish, or Norwegian name inspired by history, culture, and heritage is chosen when one occurs. The reason for naming is to make viewing the natural phenomenon a shared experience as you can explain what it looked like from different locations. Plus, it makes it easier to compare.
And since naming will become a regular practice, the process is being opened to the public. You can go to This is Arctic’s Naming Auroras website and fill in your information. Once there, you can suggest a name and explain why you’d like to have the 'storm' named after this person. If you get lucky, your suggestion will one day light up the sky in Arctic Europe.