BBC brings aurora borealis down to earth

The BBC’s One Show recently hosted the aurora borealis – at least, at a smaller scale – in their studio courtesy of our Department of Physics and Astronomy.

In a segment explaining the formation of the northern and southern lights, science presenter Marty Jopson showcased the Department’s very own northern lights experiment, called the Planeterrella. The experiment, is a vacuum experiment whereby northern lights are created around the two poles of a magnetic sphere – in much the same way that the northern lights can be seen in the northern and southern polar regions.

Watch the Planterella's appearance on the BBC's One Show:

The experiment, which the researchers make available for demonstrations in schools, shows how charged particles within solar winds coming from our Sun collide with atoms in the Earth's atmosphere to create a natural light display.