An aurora is a natural light display in the sky, usually of greenish color but sometimes red or blue.
This natural phenomenon usually occurs in areas known as the 'auroral zone' near the poles of the Arctic in the north and Antarctic in the south.
The effect is known as the aurora borealis (or the Northern Lights) in Northern hemisphere latitudes.
In Southern hemisphere latitudes the effect is known as the aurora australis (or the Southern Lights).
Aurora is caused by the collision of energetically charged particles with atoms in the high altitude thermosphere within our atmosphere.
Auroras are associated with the solar winds that flow past Earth. These winds flow out from the Sun and contain plasma particles (ionized gas) which gets pulled into the Earth's magnetic pole fields.
As they accelerate towards the Earth, collisions occur between these ion particles and nitrogen and oxygen atoms in our atmosphere, releasing energy in the form of amazing aurora lights.
Auroras also occur on other planets in our solar system including Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Mars. Similar to Earth's aurora, the lights have been seen close to other planets magnetic poles.
The aurora often appear as "curtains" of folding light constantly changing shape.
Old folktales have suggested that the aurora can create brief and faint noises such as claps, static, or crackles heard on rare occasions by those on the ground. Recent scientific research has shown that this could in fact be true with clapping sounds recorded during an aurora display.