Story: Magnetic field

Aurora australis, Bluff Harbour

Aurora australis, Bluff Harbour

The southern lights or aurora australis are often seen in the skies above southern New Zealand. This blue-green curtain of luminescent light was photographed above Bluff Harbour. An aurora is formed when charged particles streaming out from the surface of the sun are drawn toward the magnetic poles of earth. They collide with atoms in the upper atmosphere, causing them to emit light energy.

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Photograph by Stephen Voss

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How to cite this page:

Tony Hurst, 'Magnetic field - The magnetic field and its direction', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 28 September 2023)

Story by Tony Hurst, published 12 Jun 2006