Northern Lights Oddity: Discover the Mysterious and Strange Clipping Sounds of Auroras


The northern lights aren’t just dazzling light shows.

Auroras also generate a mysterious and strange clipping sound!

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Strange Sounds from nothern lights. Photo:

In the past, researchers thought that the aurora borealis was too far away for people to hear the sounds it made. Although this is true, the study published in the proceedings of the 19th International Congress on Sound and Vibration, proves that the source of the sounds that are associated with the aurora borealis is likely caused by the same energetic particles from the sun that create the northern lights far away in the sky. These particles or the geomagnetic disturbance produced by them seem to create sound much closer to the ground.

Aurora sounds don’t occur during every northern lights outburst, and they’re usually brief and faint, requiring careful listening and a minimum of background noise to be heard. Scientists still aren’t sure exactly how the auroral sounds are created. They can be quite variable, ranging from claps and crackles to muffled bangs and sputtering sounds. Because of this sonic diversity, several different mechanisms might be at work. But, these weird clipping noises can be recorded just 230 feet (70 meters) from the ground.

The location of the clapping noise was determined by comparing sounds captured by three microphones set up at a site with high auroral activity. Simultaneous measurements made by the Finnish Meteorological Institute showed a typical pattern of northern lights episodes at the time.

These results corroborate folktales and reports of wilderness travelers, which have long described sounds associated with the northern lights. Listen to other mysterious sounds of space weather here.

Did you know about this northern lights oddity?

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