Størmer’s Auroral Studies

  • Alv EgelandEmail author
  • William J. Burke
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 393)


Utterly fascinating lights appear in and vanish from the polar skies with ever-changing forms that defy categorization. Across recorded history these lights bear many names. In the Meteorology Aristotle (384–322 B.C.E) called them χασματα, cracks in the sky through which blood-red light shines. For the Vikings they were simply Nordurljos “northern lights.” Near the birth of modern science Galileo (1564–1642) and Pierre Gassendi (1592–1656) introduced the Latin phrase, aurora borealis or “northern dawn” to describe reddish glows along the northern horizons of central Europe. During the voyage of Endeavour in 1770, Captain James Cook (1728–1779) was the first European to report seeing similar lights in the southern hemisphere (aurora australis). Because auroral light occurs at high magnetic latitudes in both hemispheres Kristian Birkeland would always use the phrase aurora polaris (Brekke and Egeland 1994) (Fig. 3.1).


Ring Current Radiation Belt Sunspot Cycle Auroral Zone International Polar Year 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  2. 2.Institute for Scientific ResearchBoston CollegeChestnut HillUSA

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