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Bernd Römmelt photographed these shimmering green lights on March 9, 2012 in the Lyngen Alps in Norway. (Photo: B. Römmelt)

Diese grün schimmernden Polarlichter fotografierte Bernd Römmelt am 9. März 2012 in den Lyngenalpen in Norwegen. (Foto: B. Römmelt)

Bernd Römmelt photographed these shimmering green lights on March 9, 2012 in the Lyngen Alps in Norway. (Photo: B. Römmelt)

They have fascinated people for millennia - auroras. As the colorful stripes of color dance across the sky, the landscape transforms into a magical world that captivates the observer. And sometimes you even hear the lights "whisper".

No wonder, then, that a number of myths and legends surround the luminous phenomenon and the Nordic cultures tell their very own stories about them. In southern Lapland, for example, there is the legend that the Northern Lights are ice crystals swirled by the wings of swans as they fly north. In the north of Lapland, on the other hand, it was imagined that there are snow crystals that a fox has shaken out of its fur. The Vikings interpreted the Northern Lights differently again. For them, it was the reflections on the shields of the Valkyries that led the fallen warriors to Valhalla. And the Inuit see in them deceased children playing ball with skull bones.

What's behind it

Of course, science has found another explanation. Polar lights arise when energetic particles of the solar winds hit the Earth's atmosphere. Here they react with earth's atoms, such as nitrogen and oxygen - which brings us the dancing heavenly lights. The fact that they occur at the poles is due to the magnetic field of the earth. When the solar winds hit the magnetic field, they deform it. As a result, it is compressed on the sun-facing side and stretched on the opposite side. The solar particles that hit the earth will be deflected to the back of the earth and then run along the field lines towards the poles.

The auroras, which can be seen in the northern hemisphere, bear the scientific name Aurora borealis. Their counterparts are the southern lights, also called Aurora australis. Researchers have even been able to prove that polar lights "speak" or "whisper". How exactly the sounds come about, however, still puzzles the scientists. However, it is clear that the noise, pop or crackle, which is sometimes heard, has something directly to do with the dancing lights.

Fascination that is contagious

In his book "Polar lights - sun magic in the night sky" the photographer Bernd Römmelt goes into the different myths and takes the reader with his pictures on a journey into the Nordic polar light stories. He impressively captured the many colors and shapes of the Northern Lights with the camera. In addition, he describes his beautiful northern lights so vividly that he is clearly aware of the fascination for Northern Lights - and it is contagious. display

In addition to personal impressions and legends, Römmelt also gives tips on how best to photograph the sky lights. He also introduces research into polar lights. The science journalist Felicitas Mokler goes into depth. She explains succinctly why the luminous phenomena in the sky shine and which processes behind them.

The author and photographer: Bernd Römmelt works since 2001 as a freelance photographer and travel journalist. The studied ethnologist already published 30 illustrated books on various topics. He mainly deals with the Alps and northern regions like Alaska, Canada or Lapland. Two of his paintings have already won the BBC wildlife competition "Wildlife Photographer of the Year".

The book:
Bernd R mmelt
auroras
Sun magic in the night sky
Knesebeck, Munich 2016, 29.95

Science.de - Meike Seibert
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