HomeAstronomyEarliest documented aurora found in ancient Chinese text

Earliest documented aurora found in ancient Chinese text

The northern lights over Greenland. The oldest documented observation of an aurora may date to the early 10th century B.C. (Image credit: Elena Pueyo via Getty Images)

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 text describes “five-colored light” witnessed in the northern part of the night sky toward the end of the reign of King Zhāo, the fourth king of the Chinese Zhou dynasty. 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.

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