When did we find out what caused the aurora?



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    There was no one landmark discovery of the auroral phenomenon, but rather, small ones that led to the eventual understanding.  These are a few of the studies.

    • In 1741, three Greek explorers/geographers (Pytheas, Hiorter, and Celsius) theorized that auroral lights came from magnetic fluctuations in the atmosphere.
    • in 1908, Kristian Birkeland hypothesized that auroral arcs moved from east to west from dayside toward midnight.  This was ultimately correct.

    Full understanding of the aurora event came with the advent of satellites which were used to find out what triggered auroral events.  All of these studies played a role in unfurling the inner-workings of this phenomenon, therefore no single scientist is credited with the founding theory on the auroras.

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