All about aurorae

Posted by Michael Bakich
on Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Most observers I know love atmospheric phenomena almost as much as deep-sky objects. And if these airborne effects occur after sunset, so much the better. The classic example of a nighttime atmospheric occurrence is the aurora borealis, or, for Southern Hemisphere observers, the aurora australis.
If you'd like to learn more — and I mean a lot more — about this phenomenon, pick up Neil Bone's new book, Aurora: Observing and Recording Nature's Spectacular Light Show (Springer, 2007).
Bone presents chapters detailing what an aurora is, what causes it, how to forecast an auroral display, and how to observe aurorae.

In addition to these, Chapter 5, "Historical Aurorae and More Recent Events," presents details on several historical aurorae and 10 events that occurred since March 1989. If you've been active in amateur astronomy during this period, as I have, you'll remember many of these displays. This chapter was my favorite, and it brought back many pleasant memories.
Other chapters highlight aurorae on other planets, scientific investigations of aurorae, and other types of atmospheric phenomena. A list of organizations you can report observations to and an excellent glossary complete this work.

Bone has packed his 182-page book with information you'll return to again and again, and the illustrations and color photographs throughout help him convey his ideas.

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