Atmospheric Phenomena

Rainbows and Other Colorful Phenomena

What is airglow?

If you could remove all the illumination coming from city lights, the stars and Moon, and from aurorae, the night sky would still have a faint, greenish glow to it. This is caused by oxygen atoms about 60 miles (100 kilometers) high being excited by radiation from space. Other colors coming from different elements are also possible, but the green from oxygen predominates. This phenomenon is sometimes called the “permanent aurora.”


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