Naming the northern lights

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For years people have been naming stars on the internet, and then probably struggling to ever ever spot that star in person. Thankfully, the northern lights don’t quite have that problem, and you can now name one of the most brilliant celestial spectacles. Visit Arctic Europe is launching a new initiative inviting people to submit name ideas for the storms causing the aurora borealis.

Rauno Posio, the program director of Visit Arctic Europe, said, “There are so many northern lights visible in Arctic Europe from autumn to early spring that we started giving them names the same way other storms are named. This way, they get their own identities and it’s easier to communicate about them.”

The lights are caused by solar winds, which send charged solar particles into Earth’s atmosphere. The result is what we call the “northern lights” — flashes of colored lights streaking across the sky. The program will be focused on naming the brightest, most visible auroras, which the Space Weather Prediction Centre can identify in advance.

The initiative is designed to allow people from all over the world to connect with the lights in a new way. They have a set pool of names related to Nordic history, but they encourage people to submit their own Nordic-inspired, or non-Nordic, names.

You can submit your suggestions via the Naming Auroras website, with a description of why you think your name should be chosen. Selected names will appear on the website and on This is Arctic’s Instagram page.