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Distributed for University of Alaska Press

Aurora Watcher’s Handbook

Neil Davis’s decades-long involvement with the aurora extends beyond study and research. He has also been explaining this magnificent phenomenon to diverse audiences, sharing the knowledge with his graduate students and his grandchildren, with his fellow scientists through professional publications, and with the general public through newspaper columns. His ability to communicate both the facts and the wonder of the northern lights shows clearly in this book.

Starting at a basic level, the handbook begins appropriately with matters of immediate concern to someone who hopes to see an auroral display: what causes the aurora, where and when it is most often seen, and how best to capture it on film. Later sections provide a thorough and clear review of all aspects of auroral science, including the mysterious realm of auroral sound. In a concise and readable fashion, the handbook covers what is known about auroras, encompassing overviews of the northern Natives’ legends and myths and the several theories geophysicists have produced to explain why auroras behave as they do. The Aurora Watcher’s Handbook includes numerous illustrations, ranging from cartoons to color plates and drawings. 


"I am confident [this book] will become the aurora watcher’s bible for many years to come." (Sky & Telescope)

"This is participatory science at its best!" (Midwest Book Review)

"A delightful book, highly recommended." (CHOICE )

"A complete course for the layman with an interest in the northern lights." (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

"[Davis] has written the book in a smooth, how-it-works style, and his presentation is remarkably clear. . . . [He] expended much effort on this book, forming from his lifetime of knowledge a coherent and comprehensible picture of the aurora for the non-specialist." (ARCTIC)

"For a comprehensive guide to the northern lights, read Neil Davis’s The Aurora." (Small Press Magazine)

230 pages | illustrations tables, maps, appendix, index | 6 x 9 | © 1992

Physical Sciences: Astronomy and Astrophysics

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Table of Contents



Part I         Matters of Immediate Concern to Aurora Watchers

Section 1                 Cause of the Aurora (Briefly Explained)

Section 2                 Hints for Watching and Photographing the Aurora

Section 3                 A Suggested Observing Program for the Aurora Watcher Interested in Investigating Auroral Sound

Section 4                 Some Basic Facts and Definitions

Section 5                 Kinds of Auroras

Section 6                 Temporal Variations in the Aurora

Color Plates

Part II       For Those Who Want to Learn More

Section 7                 Auroral Colors and Their Causes

Section 8                 The Aurora Seen from Space

Section 9                 Control of the Aurora by the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Section 10             Auroral Conjugacy

Section 11             The Causes of Auroral Motions and Shape Changes

Section 12             Artificial Auroras and Chemical Look-Alikes

Section 13             Aurorally Related Phenomena

Section 14             Folklore and Legends

Part III      Auroral Mysteries

Section 15             Unknowns About Auroral Processes

Section 16             Aurora and Weather

Section 17             The Mystery of Auroral Sound


Suggested Further Reading


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