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The Goddess of Dawn
Auroras (commonly referred to as the "Northern Lights" in the northern hemisphere) occur in the upper atmosphere at both poles. They are known as "aurora borealis" in the north, and "aurora australis" in the south.
A 17th Century scientist in France named Pierre Gassendi (Also: Gassend, 1592-1655) applied the name "aurora" to the Northern Lights, naming the fantastic light displays after Aurora - the Goddess of Dawn in Roman mythology.
The Goddess of Dawn represented the eternal alternation of day (light) and night (darkness). M. Gassendi likely thought this an appropriate name as the auroras, like Aurora's torch, brought light into the darkness of night.
Aurora rose from her bed every morning leaving her aged husband Titone shielding his eyes from the morning light which flowed from her torch. As she travelled across the sky in her horse drawn chariot, the clouds of night rolled away and the horizon lightened. A group of maidens scattered flowers, announcing the beginning of a bright new day.
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Library: Northern Lights
Environment / Atmosphere, Arctic
Links: Northern Lights, Arctic
Northern Lights Slide Show
Arctic Maps & Weather Reports
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GUIDE TO ARCTIC SUNRISE & SUNSET: How much sunlight or darkness is there in the Arctic on each day of the year?