For those of us living too far south to see the Northern Lights, as well as those who would rather enjoy a view of the aurora borealis while warm and snug on the couch, this live stream is just the ticket.
I've never been to Canada, or anywhere northern enough to see this phenomenon, so the only way I and many others have ever seen the Northern Lights is through photos and video, but a camera located in Churchill, Manitoba is now bringing it right into your living room, live.
The camera, which is set up at the Churchill Northern Studies Centre (23 km east of the town of Churchill, Manitoba), serves up a livestream courtesy of explore.org, allowing viewers to see Northern Lights displays and wildlife (such as polar bears). According to Explore, the location of the Centre along the Hudson Bay seacoast is "ideally situated" for diverse wildlife sightings because three major biomes come together there -- marine, northern boreal forest, and tundra.When it comes to the Northern Lights, however, it gets even better because the Centre is also located "directly beneath the aurora oval," which makes the location "one of the best places on Earth to view the aurora borealis." The prime viewing seasons for the Northern Lights are late winter and early spring, and the intensity and duration depends on the strength of the solar cycle (the fluctuations of sunspots and storms), and Space.com explains that the aurora borealis displays are "known to be brighter and more active for up to two days after sunspot activity is at its highest."
So if you've exhausted your Netflix queue, funny cat videos aren't doing it for you anymore, and a livestream of a fireplace is oh so pedestrian, this camera livestream will give you an opportunity to see this consequence of electrons colliding with our atmosphere:
NOAA explains the process in a bit more detail:
"The electrons are energized through acceleration processes in the downwind tail (night side) of the magnetosphere and at lower altitudes along auroral field lines. The accelerated electrons follow the magnetic field of Earth down to the Polar Regions where they collide with oxygen and nitrogen atoms and molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere. In these collisions, the electrons transfer their energy to the atmosphere thus exciting the atoms and molecules to higher energy states. When they relax back down to lower energy states, they release their energy in the form of light. This is similar to how a neon light works. The aurora typically forms 80 to 500 km above Earth’s surface."