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Auroras appear during geomagnetic storms--that is, when Earth's magnetic field is vibrating in response to a solar wind gust. Such gusts pose no danger to people on the ground because our magnetic field forms a bubble around Earth called the magnetosphere, which protects us. The magnetosphere is filled with electrons and protons. "When a solar wind gust hits the magnetosphere, the impact knocks loose some of those trapped particles," explains space physicist Tony Lui of Johns Hopkins University. "They rain down on Earth's atmosphere and cause the air to glow where they hit--like the picture tube of a color TV
Editor's note: Seasons are reversed in Earth's two hemispheres. Today is the beginning of both northern autumn and southern spring. Because geomagnetic activity is higher during spring and autumn, aurora season is therefore beginning in both hemispheres.
On Sunday evening, Sept. 27th, the supermoon will pass through the shadow of Earth, turning the lunar disk a cosmic shade of red.