How the Northern Lights are formed 

One of the most attractive and beautiful atmospheric phenomena to observe is the Northern Lights. It is a natural phenomenon that takes place at the poles of the planet and that, most of the time, is characterized by a light that seems to flow like a river across the night sky. This phenomenon is one of the most striking natural phenomena that can be observed in the atmosphere and, although its nature is completely known, it can sometimes be a bit difficult to explain what steps have to be taken for its formation, especially if the explanation It is aimed at the little ones.

What is the aurora borealis

Actually, it would be more appropriate to speak of polar auroras , since these phenomena occur both at the north and south poles and, when they take place in the north, they are called the northern lights , while at the south pole they are called southern auroras , although the phenomenon is exactly the same.

This phenomenon occurs because some particles emitted by the sun, and that reach our planet in the form of solar wind, are trapped in the Earth’s magnetosphere and, precisely due to electromagnetic fields , these particles move towards the poles . The consequence is that, when the level of solar particles is concentrated in the atmosphere of the poles, they hit the particles that make up the Earth’s atmosphere in these places and, consequently, a visible light is emitted for the human being, giving rise to the polar auroras.

When explaining how an aurora borealis is formed to children , it is important that they previously know a series of concepts that will be necessary to understand the explanation itself. Thus, before directly explaining how the northern lights are formed, it will be necessary to explain the following basic concepts in a language that they understand:

Planet Earth

Most likely, if we are going to explain what an aurora borealis is, they will already be familiar with the nature of the world we live in. However, it is important that they understand that we live on a planet with a round shape and that revolves around the sun, which is the star of our solar system, as well as that the Earth is made up of several layers and that each one is very important. to understand what is happening on our planet.

Sol

It is the same as with planet Earth. Even if you are familiar with the concept, it is important that you understand that the sun is a star and that, basically, it can be understood as a ball of fire that emits light and heat (and more that we will see later).

Magnetosfera

This is one of the concepts that they have to understand and that can cost them the most, since it is intangible and difficult for some to understand. In this way, initially, it will be enough to explain to them that, although we do not see them, there are electromagnetic fields and that each “thing” has its own, including the planet itself. To explain it, we can use magnets as an example.

Solar wind

This concept may also cost them a little more to understand at first but, when it is explained that it is about “the particles that the sun emits and that are very small and that is why we do not see them”, when referring to their small size , it is usually easier for them to understand it.

How the Northern Lights are formed: easy explanation for children

At this point, and with these four concepts well understood, we can proceed to explain how the Northern Lights are formed. Broadly speaking and, above all, avoiding unnecessary technicalities so that children can understand the process of formation of the northern lights , it will suffice to tell them that when the particles carried by the solar wind reach our planet, there are some that are lost in the space, but other solar particles that get trapped in the magnetosphere. These particles trapped in the magnetosphere move towards the poles by the very nature of the magnetosphere and, when many of these particles accumulate in some areas, they collide with particles in the air. Then sparks jump that are very small and we cannot see them, but when there are many they do produce light, and what we see is the light of the northern lights . We can also explain to them that it happens exactly the same in the two poles: the North and the South.

On the other hand, when it comes to explaining how the northern lights are formed to a child, as it happens when anything is explained to them, it is necessary to know how to adapt to the capacities and characteristics of each child. This means that there will be children who have more facility than others when it comes to understanding an adult explanation. In any case, what must always be borne in mind is that it will be necessary to explain anything to them in a language that they can understand, not avoiding those technicalities that are necessary but avoiding that they are excessive. At the same time, it is important to answer the questions that the children ask as a result of the explanation, since it will be an equally fundamental part when the little ones can understand and also memorize the concepts and explanations that we have given them. .

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