Do the Northern Lights whistle?

Do the Northern Lights whistle?


For as long as humans have craned their necks to watch the Aurora, they’ve also bent their ears to hear them.

Lots of people swear the lights hiss and crackle. But for a long time, researchers said they were hearing things. 

Scientifically speaking, the “noisy Aurora” theory seems mad. The lightshow happens at least 60 kilometres overhead, in the soundless void of space. And even if it could make a noise up there, the sound would take five minutes to get to Earth.

But a few years ago, a Finnish scientist threw all that knowledge for a loop. Aalto University acoustic researcher Unto K. Laine placed three low-frequency microphones beneath a magnetic storm and captured a “weird surging hiss.” The explanation for the noise is a mystery, but “there’s something going on,” says Tom Hallinen, a professor at Alaska’s Geophysical Institute. “It’s scientifically unreasonable, but people do hear it.”

Are you one of them? Check out the Northern Lights in the Northwest Territories – and let us know what you hear. 

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