As we near the 4th of July, many of us eagerly await the spectacular firework shows we have come to associate with Independence Day.
But did you know that the Earth (and our universe) puts on amazing light shows for us each and every day?
From the skies to the seas, by plants or animals, it is all truly awe-inspiring.
Lights in the Sky:
The sun is giving off more than just light. It also emits electrically charged particles. When the particles collide with our atmosphere above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, the bright dancing lights of the aurora borealis can be seen. They can be blue, purple, green, yellow, and even red, depending on the altitude of the particles in our atmosphere. Here is an informative link about the aurora borealis.
Shooting Stars and Meteor Showers:
When we look into the night sky and see a shooting star, what we are seeing is a speck of dust or a bit of debris that has entered our atmosphere. The small bits of matter heat up and glow as gravity pulls them towards the earth’s surface. When the earth passes through the debris trail left by a comet, we gets lots of shooting stars over a very short period of time. We call that a meteor shower.
Many of the showers are predictable annual events. Perseids (PER) is the next big meteor shower and it takes place from July 17th through August 24th. It has an expected ZHR of 100 (meaning a person should be able to see 100 shooting stars per hour) at the height of the event, which takes place on August 12th this year. Viewing is best after midnight, in a sky free from urban lights, so if you live in the city, consider going an hour out of town to view the event. More information about meteor showers and other astrological phenomena can be found at the American Meteor Society website.
Lightning is a sudden electrostatic discharge that occurs during a thunderstorm. This discharge can occur between electrically charged regions of a cloud, between two clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. It can be fascinating to watch. If you do decide to watch, play it safe.
Never go outside to watch lightning. Stay inside (building or vehicle) with the window’s closed to substantially reduces the chances of being struck. If you find yourself outdoors when a thunderstorm starts, go indoors, or get into a car. Resist the urge to pop open your umbrella, or duck under a tree. Both increase your chances of being struck by lightning.
Some living organisms produce their own light through chemical reactions that take place within themselves. This is called bioluminescence.
From magical yellow fireflies, to green glowing mushrooms, to neon blue glow-in-the dark algae, to deep sea animals that make their own light, there are dozens and dozens of examples of organisms that bioluminesce.
If you don’t like the big man made show with the loud pops and bangs. You can still enjoy one of mother natures amazing shows for free. All of us at MoreBees will be enjoying a toned down local show on the 4th and then some of us will be catching the meteor shower that starts July 17th. I hope you have a safe and patriotic 4th of July. Remember, we fought a war against the most powerful nation on this planet to start a country where ordinary people can choose their leaders and openly express their beliefs. This is truly a day to celebrate our independence and freedom.