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18

The lowest reaches of an aurora is ~100 km in the air. Your problem won't be the ionized gas, it'll be that the air pressure is close to zero. Also, aurora are very diffuse, with at most a few glowing molecules per square centimeter. I'm not sure at that density that you could tell you were actually in something. If you're in a spacesuit to survive the ...


12

Quoting from the Wikipedia article on the Solar Storm of 1859; On September 1–2, 1859, the largest recorded geomagnetic storm occurred. Aurorae were seen around the world, those in the northern hemisphere even as far south as the Caribbean; those over the Rocky Mountains were so bright that their glow awoke gold miners, who began preparing breakfast ...


9

Even the extremely dim light of the aurora is accumulated from massive volumes of air. This means that a small volume of air emits almost no light by itself. If you were in the middle of a filament you might not even know it! (Likely it would be visible as increased local skyglow, but would be invisible against the Earth.) Secondly, the aurora are ...


9

Solar wind particles directly entering the Earth's magnetosphere are not responsible for the majority of bright auroral displays. As you have found, it is magnetic reconnection that accelerates magnetospheric plasma that collides with the upper atmosphere to cause the visible aurora. Polar rain The Solar wind does enter the magnetosphere directly, and ...


5

If your eyes are fully adapted to the darkness you will be able to see a persons face in the light from the auroras. By fully adapted to darkness means sitting in a totally dark room for 20+ minutes before you start looking at the night sky. The time you will need to adapt depends on your age. Any bright light will destroy your night vision. As we get ...


5

One model is the OVATION auroral precipitation model. OVATION stands for Oval Variation, Assessment, Tracking, Intensity, and Online Nowcasting. The NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center uses the OVATION Prime model for their 30-minute aurora forecast. They use a modified version of the model for their 3-day forecast. It was devised by Newell et al. (...


4

As others have pointed out, you cannot really touch it as such. What you can do, potentially, is to fly through it on a sub-orbital flight. It might be beautiful; indeed, aurora is from a large volume, so you would likely see it all around you. However, you will be bombarded with charged particles, because that's what the aurora borealis is — the solar ...


3

Straight from wikipedia: Auroras are associated with the solar wind, a flow of ions continuously flowing outward from the Sun. The Earth's magnetic field traps these particles, many of which travel toward the poles where they are accelerated toward Earth. Collisions between these ions and atmospheric atoms and molecules cause energy releases in ...


3

No. If that were the case, the Sun would eventually develop a net charge. Let's imagine that's the case and the Sun develops a net positive charge. That charge would eventually stop negative particles from flying away and facilitate the ejection of positive ones. This regime would then restore the neutral charge of the Sun. This negative feedback makes sure ...


3

When the solar wind is funneled into the Earth's magnetic poles, those particles excite the electrons of molecules in the atmosphere which then bumps those electrons up into another orbital. When the electrons fall back down into their native orbital, they produce a photon of a particular wavelength whose energy is equal to the difference between the energy ...


2

The visible emissions from atomic oxygen take place between the fine structure levels of the ground state, and transitions between these states are not quantum-mechanically allowed by electric-dipole radiation. These "forbidden" transitions take much more time to occur, proceeding by magnetic dipole or electric-quadripole radiation. As a result the atom ...


1

Short answer: Oxygen atoms (not oxygen molecules) cause the dominant red and green auroral emissions at high altitudes. Although there is more atomic $\ce{O}$ at higher altitudes than nitrogen, the key to understand the different colours is the excitation energy. Auroral particles with higher energies penetrate deeper down into the atmosphere causing higher ...


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