For the first time, a person saw the northern lights in China. between 977 or 957 B.C.. At least, this is what some researchers believe after the discovery of a Chinese text detailing the observation of this atmospheric phenomenon. In particular, the first mention of the Northern Lights can be found in the Bamboo Annals, a chronicle of ancient China written on strips of bamboo lost during the Song Dynasty.

One of the 13 parts of the chronicle, of which two versions are known; one partially restored in the early 20th century; and another more “current”, complete and printed at the end of the 16th century (although many believe that this is a fake, describes the northern lights as “five-colored light”. It is also detailed that it was visible in the northern part of the night sky towards the end of the reign of King Zhao of the Zhou Dynasty.

But how is it possible that they can spot the northern lights in China? Although it may seem confusing, since auroras are often seen in the polar regions due to particles from the Sun colliding with the Earth’s magnetic field, the researchers said. In the 10th century BC, the Earth’s magnetic north pole was about 15 degrees closer to central China than it is today.. Therefore, it is likely that the citizens could see this atmospheric phenomenon from the above territory.

The description of the northern lights in the Chinese text is consistent with more modern descriptions of sightings of the phenomenon.

Different versions of Bamboo Annals.

On the other hand, a journal article Achievements in space research the details that the description of the northern lights in the texts of the Bamboo Annals is consistent with the most recent accounts. about the first observations of this type of geomagnetic storms.

The textual description can be compared to early modern reports of visual sightings of multicolored auroras.

The last description of a northern light sighting known so far, before the discovery of a Chinese text, was found in cuneiform tablets from the Assyrian Empire, which will correspond to 679 and 655 AD.. That is three centuries later.

However, Why did it take so long to discover the first record of sightings of the Northern Lights? Mainly due to the lack of scientific interest caused by the Bamboo Annals, which in turn was driven by “controversial interpretations of the physical identity and chronology of the event” detailed in the aforementioned journal.

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Source: Hiper Textual

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