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Aurora Guide: How the Northern Lights Work (Infographic)

The northern lights are more formally known as auroras, and are caused by interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field.
The northern lights are more formally known as auroras, and are caused by interactions between the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field. (Image credit: Karl Tate/SPACE.com)

The auroras of Earth are some of the most spectacular skywatching experiences on the planet and never fail to delight observers lucky enough to see them. Also known as the northern and southern lights, Earth's auroras are caused by interactions of solar particles in the planet's upper atmosphere. See how they work in the SPACE.com infographic above.

Related: How to See the Northern Lights

Karl Tate
Karl's association with SPACE.com goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. Starting in 2010, Karl has been TechMediaNetwork's infographics specialist across all editorial properties.  Before joining SPACE.com, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating  news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Karl on Google+.

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