We know that the northern lights are phenomena that occur mainly in the upper part of the northern hemisphere. In places like Norway, the northern lights usually occur at certain times of the year. Nevertheless, there was a northern lights in Spain during the civil war that shocked the entire country. As expected, it is an event or not at all usual.
In this article we are going to tell you when there was a northern lights in Spain and all the details about it.
Table of Contents
How do aurora borealis form?
The Northern Lights can be seen as a fluorescent glow that can be seen on the horizon. The sky is dyed in color and it seems something completely magical. However, it is not magic. It is a direct relationship with solar activity, the composition of the Earth and the characteristics that are in the atmosphere at that time.
The areas of the world where they can be seen are above the poles of the Earth. The northern lights are formed thanks to a bombardment of subatomic particles that come from the Sun in one of its activities known as solar storms. The particles that are released have different colors ranging from violet to red. As they move through outer space, they run into the Earth's magnetic field and drift. This is the reason why it can only be seen at the Earth's poles.
The electrons from which they are Composite solar radiation emissions produce a spectral emission upon encountering the magnetosphere. In the magnetosphere there is a large presence of gaseous molecules and it is thanks to this layer of the atmosphere that life can be protected. The solar wind causes an excitation of the atoms that form the luminescence that we see in the sky. The luminescence spreads until it covers the entire horizon.
It is not well known when the Northern Lights may occur, since solar storms are not fully understood. It is estimated that they take place every 11 years, but it is an approximate period. It is not known exactly when an aurora borealis will take place to be able to see it. This is a big barrier when it comes to seeing them, since traveling to the poles is expensive and if on top of that you can't see the aurora, even worse.
When was there an aurora borealis in Spain?
On January 25, 1938, now 75 years ago, an aurora borealis occurred that could be seen from all over Europe. Spain, in the midst of civil war, has experienced events between surprise, bewilderment and fear.
A constant wind of particles that blown from the sun sweeps the Earth's orbit and spreads out to the far reaches of the solar system. During the event, violent eruptions and coronal mass ejections occur on the Sun, greatly increasing the amount of material carried by this solar wind. These are charged particles (electrons and protons) that, upon reaching our planet, enter the atmosphere through the poles following the lines of the Earth's magnetic field.
As they travel through our atmosphere, these particles from the sun collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere, transporting some of their energy into what are known in physics as "excited electronic states." Since all systems tend to the lowest energy state, atoms and molecules in the atmosphere release excess energy by emitting colored light. Oxygen emits green, yellow, and red light, while nitrogen emits blue light.
This glow makes up one of the most beautiful natural wonders of the night sky: the Northern Lights. Due to the mechanism by which they form, auroras occur in regions near the Earth's poles, and are typically form in irregular rings between 65 and 75 degrees latitude, called "aurora regions"«. Greenland, Lapland, Alaska, Antarctica are some of the places where auroras are common. In the northern hemisphere, auroras are called "northern" and "southern" in the south.
Civil War Northern Lights
Auroral rings can extend to latitudes closer to the equator when the sun experiences a period of intense activity that causes particularly violent ejections. Auroras at such low latitudes are rare, but there are many well-documented cases. The beautiful aurora was seen from Hawaii in September 1859 and from Singapore in 1909. Recently, On November 20, 2003, the Northern Lights were observed over much of Europe. Also in Spain the auroras are so rare that only a few can be seen every century.
On January 25, 1938, during the Civil War, the northern lights were visible throughout the peninsula. The reddish light, caused mainly by helium and oxygen in the lower atmosphere, reached its maximum between 20:00 p.m. and 03:00 a.m. on the 26th.
Witnesses of when there was a northern lights in Spain
There are many witnesses. Paco Bellido mentions some of them in his blog «El beso de la Luna» and highlights the description of José Luis Alcofar in his book «La aviation legionario en la Guerra Española». According to Alcofar, the appearance of these unusual lights in Barcelona after a day of intense bombardment greatly affected the morale of the troops. In this article, Juan José Amores Liza transcribes several testimonies collected in Alicante. The ABC newspaper reported on the 26th that in Madrid it was thought that it was a distant fire. Since the sunrise can be seen from the northwest of the city, it is believed that the Pardo mountains are burning. But soon it was deduced that it was a meteorological phenomenon due to the height and great extension of the light.
Father Luis Rhodes, then director of the Ebro Observatory, published an explanatory note in the Herald on the 27th, describing the aurora as "an enormous fan of light that opens towards the sky... Increasingly whiter and brighter, as the if from a powerful reflector focused on the zenith…”
Northern lights elsewhere in Europe
In many other places in Europe, from Paris to Vienna, from Scotland to Sicily, the appearance of the aurora has given rise to many anecdotes. In many places, firefighters were notified that it was a fire. The phenomenon was also seen in Bermuda, where it was believed to be a ship on fire. In the United States, solar storms have disabled shortwave radio communications.
In some Catholic ministries, the dawn of 1938 is associated with the prophecy of Our Lady of Fatima. In the second mystery, the children say they received it from the Virgin on July 13, 1917, and it can be read as follows: «When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that it is because Your great sign is in the name of God that will punish the world for its sins through wars, famines… Of course, some people saw the great sign in the aurora that declared World War II, so this solar storm is sometimes called “Storm of Fatima”.
Beyond superstitious religious interpretations and interpretations, the dawn of 1938 was a special milestone in the Spanish Civil War. A fleeting episode that can make one look to Heaven, some fascinated, some terrified, and many believe that even Heaven is enraged by the savagery of war.
I hope that with this information you can learn more about when there was a northern lights in Spain.