Workbook

Describe the northern lights (Go to this page)

Exercise 1

State four words that you think describe the northern lights.

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Exercise 2

For someone who has never seen pictures of the northern lights or experienced the northern lights, it can be difficult to imagine what they are. Give a description of how the northern lights can appear.

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Exercise 3

Which of the following phenomena do you believe are necessary for the formation of the northern lights on earth? You can check more than one alternative.

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Describe how the northern lights are formed (Go to this page)

 

Nordlys

 

Exercise 4

Describe what happens in the formation of the northern lights. Use the following words in your description: solar wind, electrically charged particles, magnetic field, polar region, atmosphere and excitation.

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Exercise 5

What does it mean when we say that an atom is excited?

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Exercise 6

Earlier in the program, the following exercise was given:

Which of the following do you believe are necessary for the formation of the northern lights on earth?
•    magnetic field
•    sunlight
•    reflection of sunlight
•    streams of particles from the sun
•    reflection of the light on the earth 
•    lightning
•    the earth’s atmosphere
•    electricity

Go back, and read your answer. Do you agree with the answer you gave earlier? What corrections might you make and why?

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Exercise on the colours of the northern lights (Go to this page)

Exercise 7

Foto: Katja Gottschewski

Here you see a picture of the northern lights. Try to say something about the altitude of the northern lights and which molecules give rise to such light. 

 

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Exercises on observation of northern lights (Go to this page)

 

Nordlys

 

Exercise 8

At what time of day does the auroral oval lie along the coast of Northern Norway?

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Exercise 9

When do the northern lights occur over Svalbard?

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Exercise 10

In the daylight it is not possible to see the northern lights. How then is it possible to conduct research on the northern lights on Svalbard when Svalbard is in the region of the daytime northern lights?

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Exercise 11

In theory, it is possible to see the northern lights a few times a month in Oslo.  Imagine that you are outside each and every night for a whole month but, nevertheless, you do not see the northern lights.  How would you explain this?

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Exercise 12

What is the relationship between solar activity and the rate of occurrence of the northern lights?

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Exercise 13

 

The variation in the number of sunspots per month

The graph shows the variation in the number of sunspots per month.  Use the graph to find out whether, in the current year, we are in a period of  intense or of sparse northern lights activity.  When will we experience the next period of intense activity?

 

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Exercises on northern lights research (Go to this page)

Exercise 14

The northern lights can be observed often in Norway, Alaska, Northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia. Why do you think it is easier to observe and do research on the northern lights in Norway than it is in these other areas?

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Exercise 15

Birkeland
Kristian Birkeland is reckoned to be one of Norway’s foremost researchers and a pioneer in northern lights’ research. How did he distinguish himself in this field compared to other northern lights’ researchers before 1900?

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Exercise 16

Read the biography of Kristian Birkeland and find out how he financed his northern lights’ research.

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Exercise on Myths (Go to this page)

Exercise 17

Why have southern Europeans created more frightening myths about the northern lights’ phenomenon than the indigenous peoples of the circumpolar regions?

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