‘The Science and Spectacle of the Northern Lights’ – Will Gater, May 2016

Wycombe Astronomical Society welcomed new speaker Will Gater to the society in May. Will gave an excellent talk on the aurora which was well received by the audience. Will started by looking at the folk law surrounding the aurora and first sightings of it and progressed to talk about the science behind the aurora; taking a detailed look at the Sun and its activity, how the charged particles reach Earth and are directed along the magnetic field lines and then how the charged particles interact with atoms in our atmosphere to produce the light we all know as the Aurora. It was interesting to learn how the different colours are produced from different atoms (oxygen and nitrogen) and at different heights in the atmosphere and it was nice to be treated to some pictures of the aurora over the UK! The audience asked many questions at the end of the lecture which Will answered enthusiastically.