Four things you can only see in the Arctic

July 25, 2014

Northern Lights [aurora borealis] over Eagle Plains, Canada. Nordlichter [aurora borealis] ueber Eagle Plains, Kanada.

© Bernd Roemmelt / Greenpeace

[caption id="attachment_28469" align="alignnone" width="600"]Polar nightPolarnacht Polar night in the Sukapak Mountain, Brooks Range, North Alaska.[/caption]

How many stars do you see in this night compared to the one where you live? The Arctic may be one of the last places left on Earth where the night sky is unpolluted by artificial light, allowing a stargazer full access to the multitude of stars that dot the sky.

[caption id="attachment_28468" align="alignnone" width="600"]Northern Lights over Brooks Range, Northern Alaska. Northern Lights over Brooks Range, Northern Alaska.[/caption]

The spectacular northern lights seen here over the Brooks range mountains in northern Alaska. Charged particles emanating from the sun stream towards earth and then collide with the highest air particles. The color we see is a direct result of which gases are in the atmosphere. Oxygen produces the most common yellow-green color and the violet we often see at the lower edge of the aurora is due to nitrogen.

[caption id="attachment_28467" align="alignnone" width="600"]Polar nightPolarnacht Snow-covered trees[/caption]

This is an image of a polar night during the summer when it is light 24 hours a day. In Svalbard, Norway, the northernmost point of Europe, the sun does not set during most of summer.

Sundog / parhelion in the sky in Alaska.
Sundog / parhelion in the sky in Alaska.

The Solange to the northern lights Beyonce, sundog is a lesser known but equally incredible atmospheric phenomenon. During this more common optical spectacle, the sun is flanked by two bright spots known as sun dogs and connected by a luminous halo.

The Arctic is at threat from global warming and reckless from companies like Shell. Greenpeace is currently campaigning for Shell's marketing partner LEGO to drop the partnership making it harder to Shell to get public approval for its 2015 Arctic drilling.

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