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The Northern Lights



The Northern Lights

A Short Reader

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   5.61

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    nitrogen, atmosphere, borealis, spectacular, present, magnetic, people, early, collide, appear, produce, view, often, poles, northern, magnet


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The Northern Lights
By Sheri Skelton
  

1     People in the far north are often treated to a spectacular light show in the night sky. Yellow, green, red, and blue lights dance across the sky. These lights are the aurora borealis, or northern lights.
 
2     What causes the northern lights? Imagine the Earth as a big magnet. The north and south poles are the ends of the magnet. The poles attract electrically charged particles. Some of these particles are solar particles coming from the sun. The solar particles enter the Earth's magnetic field. They collide with gas particles that are in the Earth's atmosphere. The collisions create the northern lights.
 
3     The kinds of particles bumping into each other determine the colors of the northern lights. If solar particles collide with oxygen, the lights produced might be green or yellow. When solar particles run into nitrogen, the lights tend to be red or blue. How fast the particles are moving determines the size and shape of the northern lights. How many particles are present also influences the size and shape of the northern lights.

Paragraphs 4 to 5:
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