The earliest documented case of
an aurora, the fleeting but brilliantly colored lights that sometimes illuminate the night sky, dates to the early 10th century B.C., a new study on an ancient Chinese text reveals.
The exact dates of Zhāo's reign
aren't known, but it's likely that this "five-colored light" event happened in either 977 B.C. or 957 B.C., according to the study.
Researchers discovered this colorful
detail in the Bamboo Annals (Zhúshū Jìnián in Mandarin), a fourth-century B.C. text written on bamboo slips that chronicled legendary and early Chinese history.
The newly analyzed
"five-colored light" description likely refers to a geomagnetic storm
Earth's magnetosphere usually
protects the planet from the sun's energetic charged particles, but sometimes these particles get through and cause magnetic disturbances, known as geomagnetic storms.
Such storms can produce
beautiful lights — oxygen glows green and red, whereas nitrogen gives off blue and purple light, NASA reported.