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Modern Mysteries

Is it possible to hear the Northern Lights ?

By T.K. Randall
October 5, 2021 · Comment icon 6 comments

Not just a pretty light show. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Carsten Frenzl
For years, there have been reports of eerie, mysterious sounds being produced by the aurora borealis.
The spectacular light show - which can often be seen flickering across the skies of the northern hemisphere - has fascinated mankind since the dawn of time.

Its colorful swirls and patterns are produced when charged particles from the sun accelerate along the field lines of Earth's magnetic field and interact with the gas atoms in its atmosphere.

But while the appearance of this phenomenon is well documented, there are some who claim that the aurora borealis can also produce strange, otherworldly sounds on rare occasions.

Reports from the early 20th Century describe these sounds as an 'almost imperceptible crackling, whooshing or whizzing' that occurrs during particularly intense displays.
Inhabitants of Scotland's Shetland Isles have also described them as being similar to 'rustling silk.'

While such accounts were often dismissed, in more recent years the phenomenon has come to be accepted as the real deal - with researchers having heard and even recorded examples on occasion.

The assistant of leading auroral scientist Carl Stormer, for instance, reported the sound as being like a "very curious faint whistling sound, distinctly undulatory, which seemed to follow exactly the vibrations of the aurora."

While many scientists have attempted to find an explanation for the sounds, to date the specific cause of the phenomenon continues to remain something of a mystery.

Source: Live Science | Comments (6)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Kittens Are Jerks 3 years ago
I was convinced I heard the Northern Lights when I saw them in Banff a number of years ago, but then persuaded myself that the sounds had to be something else. There was a Finnish study that claimed to have captured their sound (video is below). I did not hear anything like what's in the video; the sounds I heard were more like the rustling silk sounds described in the article.  
Comment icon #2 Posted by HSlim 3 years ago
Definitely if you hold the shell up to your ear close enough and the bud is strong enough
Comment icon #3 Posted by Jon the frog 3 years ago
Maybe it make a sound or maybe our brain imagine a sound from what our eyes see. If a machine can record it it's all good but faint ambient sound still can occur and be made from a different sources than the Northern lights... That's hard and recording it need to be done numerous times to have a conclusion. Never heard it, if it's faint, just a bit of wind and it could be impossible to distinguish. 
Comment icon #4 Posted by C.J. 3 years ago
I live in Northern Canada and I can say I have experienced this phenomenon first hand. The sound is very similar to how they describe it. It�s kind of a crackling/ humming sound. I have seen northern lights more times than I can count but you only hear them if they a particularly vibrant or strong.
Comment icon #5 Posted by razman 3 years ago
Or if there's enough LSD in the system.
Comment icon #6 Posted by Still Waters 1 year ago
Whistles, cracks, hisses: the noises of the northern lights You may have seen the shimmering greens and pinks of the aurora borealis lighting up the night sky, but have you ever heard them? Rare reports of crackling and whooshing noises accompanying auroras have traditionally been dismissed by scientists as folklore, but data gathered in Finland has shown that under the right weather conditions, auroras can be accompanied by a noise.

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