TECH

'Northern Lights' Observed On Saturn (VIDEO)

12/02/2014 10:20 GMT | Updated 12/02/2014 10:59 GMT

Earth is not the only planet in the Solar System where you could see the 'Northern Lights', or more properly, an aurora. Far from it.

The strange, hypnotic lights we see in the North and South Poles on Earth are actually a regular feature on most of the planets of the Solar System, and several of those planets' larger moons.

Auroras are caused when charged particles from the Sun are drawn to Earth by the magnetic fields at the poles, and collide with atoms in the atmosphere. The resultant light show - usually green here on Earth - can be extremely vibrant, especially during a solar storm. But on other planets differences in the strength of the magnetosphere, the distance to the Sun, the type of atmosphere and other factors mean many other colours and types of aurora are possible.

So far the phenomenon has been observed on Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Venus, as well as the surfaces of the large moons Io, Europa and Ganymede.

In the video above, NASA's Cassini spacecraft in orbit around Saturn managed to observe dramatic auroras occurring in the ringed planet's atmosphere. Combined with images from the Hubble Space Telescope, it makes for quite a beautiful sight.