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Auroras: Paintings In The Sky

Students go an a tour of auroral phenomena through research images and taped interviews with scientists. Diagrams and text provide background on qualitative magneto-dynamics, and explanations of locations of auroral zones on the Earth. Variations in color are used to introduce ideas about spectroscopy.

Key Questions
1. Where can you see auroras and what do they look like?

2. What makes them happen, and why do they have different colors?

Learning Objectives
1. Students will be familiar with auroral phenomena and where they appear on the Earth’s surface.

2. Students will connect auroras on Earth to activity on the Sun, and understand the mechanism that produces auroras.

3. Students will be familiar with the study of auroras from the Earth and from space.

Detailed Learning Objectives

General Subject Areas
Atmospheric Science, Space Physics

Author: Mish Denlinger


Student Activities
A self-guided tour of auroras in five sections, illustrated with pictures of aurora, images from spacecraft, and diagrams. Students navigate through pages sequentially.

Student Prerequisites
Browser skills, basic geography; an understanding of the basic concepts of electric charge and magnetic fields.

Student questionnaire
Answer key

Extended Learning
The site provides a page of additional links to other solar, auroral, and space weather sites for further study.

*The SUNSPOTS lesson provides an introduction to the science of solar activity, the source of auroras*

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Time Requirements
Approximately 1-3 hours of class time for the basic lesson.

Materials Required
-Internet connected computer with WWW browser program.
-A world globe is useful.

Required Plugins

Additional Resources

Best For Grades
middle school

National Science Education Standards (NSES)
grades 5-8

State Science Standards
Grade 5 Earth Sciences
Grade 8 Physical Science
Grades 9-12 Earth Sciences
Grades 9-12 Physics

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