Individual Activities

How High Up are Aurora?

By: Dr. Sten Odenwald (Astronomer)

Ms. Susan Higley (Cherry Hill Middle School)

Grades 7-9

Students will apply the concept of triangulation in a variety of problem solving situations including estimating the height of an aurora above the ground. One of the earliest of these measurements was made by the French scientist Jean-Jacques d'Ortous de Mairan between 1731 and 1751. From two stations 10-20 km apart, observers measured the angle between the ground and a specific spot on an aurora. From the geometry of the triangle, they estimated that aurora occurred between 650 - 1,000 km above the ground.

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