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Wintry Auroral Sky

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Smoking doesn't usually look this cool.

Overhead, in the sky, there shimmered two lines of light that swayed and faded in and out of each other in the sky. Boss watched them in awe, still not quite understanding them. They had no smell, made no sound, and yet they danced in the air above them, like two angry dogs made of light fighting each other.
Soldier Dogs: Battle of the Bulge

An aurora borealis, or australis in the Southern hemisphere, is a phenomenon occurring near the poles of the Earth when particles coming from the Sun (known as the solar wind) get aspired by the planet's magnetic field, whose poles are conveniently almost at the same place as the Earth's rotation poles. This creates magnificent and breathtaking light shows that colour and illuminate the polar skies. Auroras are predominantly green, but they are known to come in other colours as well.

Due to long-term association, auroras have become symbolic of frigid environments and a staple background element in Slippy-Slidey Ice World settings, regardless of their geographical location. They are excellent Scenery Porn and provide a break from the white and blue landscape. If the aurora is particularly important to the fiction's aesthetics, its events will take place at night to make the aurora stand out.

Auroras do actually make sound, despite what the trope quote suggests. Not everyone can hear it unassisted though, and it depends on a particular aurora how strong the sound is and what it mostly resembles. It's an eerie combination of radio static, pieces of glass colliding, chattering or chirping, and whooshing. Fiction rarely incorporates this.

In at least the northern polar region, it never gets very dark in the summer nights, so it needs to be winter, autumn, or spring for the lights to be visible well or at all.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Digimon:
    • Digimon Adventure:
      • The first episode has the kids spot an aurora in the sky. They note this as being bizarre since not only is it Summer, they are nowhere near the high latitude needed for an aurora to occur. It's a product of the Digital World interfering with the real world. Then, the Digivices come out of the aurora.
      • Gomamon's evolution to Ikkakumon features an aurora, fitting for a walrus Digimon associated with ice. The opening credits also have Ikkakumon swimming in a frigid ocean while an aurora shines overhead.
    • Digimon Frontier has an invoked example. The first time Korikakumon uses his Avalanche Axes attack, a wintry landscape with an unnaturally dense and colorful aurora appears behind him seemingly for no other reason than elemental symbolism.
    • Digimon Fusion: The Lake Zone has an aurora in the shape of a bar code as part of its Alien Sky. The wintry part comes in when the local Bagra Army goons start hurling ice everywhere, ultimately freezing about half of the normally temperate landscape solid.
  • Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi have the gang visiting the Antarctic and after a frantic sled chase (with robot dogs), stopping to enjoy the aurora borealis in the skies.
  • Fuuto P.I.: Yukiji Bandou weaponizes this as the Aurora Dopant, transforming using a Gaia Memory containing the Earth's knowledge of auroras, both borealis and australis.
  • Hokuou Kizoku to Moukinzuma no Yukiguni Karigurashi: Ritzhardt lives in the arctic territory of Revontulet, which is named after the aurora borealis. As a result, the aurora borealis itself makes an appearance at least twice; the first is a part of his internal musing on what his people and his land are like, in reference to the "boundless sky". The second is when Ritzhardt brings Sieglinde with him to Revontulet itself since the aurora reveals itself just before they arrive at Ritzhardt's home. Each time, the manga dedicates a whole page to the skies above.

    Asian Animation 
  • Pleasant Goat Fun Class: Travel Around the World: In episode 1, a Christmas Episode, the gang rides in Santa's sleigh when they meet him in Finland, and Santa explains the Northern Lights to them as they see them during the ride.

    Comic Books 
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck: Scrooge McDuck made his initial fortune during the Klondike Gold Rush. During the nighttime, Scrooge is often shown admiring the aurora borealis or to underscore moodier scenes.
  • The Snowman: In the animated short of the comic book, when the titular Snowman and the boy fly towards the Arctic Circle, they gaze forward in amazement at the aurora that fills the night sky.

    Fan Works 
  • I Hope You're Prepared For An Unforgettable Wedding!: One of the reasons Gary Chalmers decides to have his and Seymour Skinner's honeymoon in Alaska of all places is so the two of them can finally see the aurora borealis together. (The reason why he wants to see it should be quite obvious.) And in the epilogue, Chalmers brings Skinner outside at night to see it, and the two of them watch the northern lights while cuddling up to each other.

    Film — Animated 
  • Balto: Balto can somehow recreate the aurora using some broken pieces of glass and human-made lights. He uses this to woo Jenna; it works. Later Jenna uses the artificial aurora to guide Balto back home. The end of the movie also has an aurora symbolically taking the shape of a howling wolf.
  • Brother Bear: The northern lights form the backdrop for many scenes, and later become a plot point.
  • Frozen (2013): There are the green and purple hues of the Northern Lights in several of the night-time scenes. The first scene shows men harvesting ice while singing about its power and ends with a shot of the lights, which is used as a transition to a scene where little Anna wakes Elsa up, not being able to sleep due to them. That in turn sets up a scene where the two decide to play together with Elsa's ice magic. Later, the lights appear in a scene while Anna's starting to freeze to death, and appear to be something of an Empathic Environment as they illuminate the trolls' comedic "Fixer-Upper" song, then vanish at the moment Anna's condition suddenly worsens in a Mood Whiplash.
  • Towards the end of Klaus, we see Jesper and Klaus on a steamboat delivering presents to further locations. Behind them, the sky shows an aurora borealis.
  • The Polar Express: The Aurora Borealis appears as the titular train crosses the Arctic Circle.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Eight Below: The dogs spend some time playing around beneath the southern lights. It tragically leads to the death of one of the team when he plummets down a steep cliffside.
  • The Call of the Wild (2020): The northern lights can be seen frequently because it takes place in Alaska.
  • Kong: Skull Island: The main characters witness the aurora in Skull Island's night sky. The island is tropical, so this serves as more evidence of its nature as an Eldritch Location that defies conventional science.
  • Local Hero: While in Northern Scotland, the visiting characters at one point get to see the aurora, which they are amazed by. One of them phones his astronomy-obsessed boss to report to him what's happening in the sky.

  • In Pugs of the Frozen North, one can be seen in the sky from time to time. However, during a True Winter, it can get so cold that the lights freeze and fall to the earth.
  • In the second chapter of the Soldier Dogs book Battle of The Bulge. the dogs and their master view the aurora borealis. None of the dogs understand the lights, but they like the sight.
  • Alluded to in Robert Service's Narrative Poem "The Cremation of Sam McGee".
    The Northern Lights have seen queer sights
    But the queerest they ever did see
    Was the night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
    I cremated Sam McGee

  • C. W. McCall: McCall's song "Aurora Borealis" mentions a time he and his friends saw the Northern Lights once, while camped in the Bitterroot Mountains of Montana.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • The Aurora Borealis is rather promenient in Inuit Mythology. Here, it is envisioned as the spirits of the ancestors dancing in the sky.
  • By contrast, the Aurora Australis is an extremely negative symbol in Southeast Australian Aboriginal traditions, where it is envisioned as a wildfire taking place in the sky.

    Video Games 
  • In the mission Broken Arrows in Ace Combat 04: Shattered Skies, an aurora can be seen glittering high over the wintery landscape as you shoot down runaway cruise missiles.
  • In Alice: Madness Returns, the moon in the skies above the glacial Tundraful smokes a cigarette in a long holder, and the resulting smoke results in green auroras lacing through the night sky.
  • Animal Crossing: In City Folk, New Leaf and New Horizons, auroras can appears several times during the cold winters, even though if the summer is to be believed, the town's climate is nowhere near polar.
  • Somehow, auroras are seen above the top of Mount Fimbulventr from in Bayonetta 2. Granted, the area is cold, if the blizzard occurring outside is to be believed, but the Travel Montage at the beginning of the game reveals that Mount Fimbulventr is located somewhere in Kazakhstan. Then again, they add an undeniable and fitting mystical flair to the Final Boss arena.
  • In Crash Bash, the Polar Panic stage is set on a flat iceberg on the night sea, with auroras in the sky.
  • In Disney's Magical Quest games, these can be in the background of the icy levels.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim often features these in clear and partly cloudy night skies. You can even induce them if you know the right Thu'um for it.
  • Dark Souls III has shining aurorae in the sky of the snowy city of Irithyll.
  • Endless Ocean: Blue World has diving available in both polar regions, and doing so at night will let you surface and witness the aurora if you so choose.
  • The Western Coerthas Highlands in Final Fantasy XIV may feature this at night so long as the skies aren't cloudy or snowy.
  • The maps for Forza Horizon 4 and its DLCs change seasons every real-life week. While the main playable area of Great Britain doesn't have an aurora borealis during the winter at night, Fortune Island can have an aurora borealis on some nights regardless of season, including winter.
  • Goodbye Volcano High: At the end of Chapter 5, during a blackout, an aurora lights up the night sky, which persists into the day and becomes a permanent fixture for the rest of the game. It's a warning sign of how close the asteroid is to Earth in the solar system and triggers Apocalypse Anarchy. Fang even laments how much it sucks that the apocalypse is so pretty.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Christmas Town in Kingdom Hearts II downplays this with a dim blue aurora stretching above the horizon in all three of its outdoor maps.
    • In Kingdom Hearts III, the night sky in Arendelle has a bright green aurora, fitting with the perpetually cold environment. The aurora even appears as part of the world's icon on the world map.
  • Commonly used in the Kirby series:
    • Frozen Hillside, the icy racetrack from Kirby Air Ride, has green, blue and pink auroras high up in the purple skies.
    • In Kirby's Epic Yarn, the path to the Snow Land boss fight is revealed by unknitting a snowman on the map, and its yarn is used to knit a white aurora that decorates the night sky.
    • Kirby's Return to Dream Land heavily features northern lights in the icy White Wafers. They are bright enough to occur in broad daylight and are very colourful (a mix of red, violet, green, and blue). One of the levels features them so prominently that its music track is actually named "Aurora Area".
    • The sky of the frigid Planet Frostak in Kirby Star Allies is almost completely covered in multicoloured auroras.
  • Chillydip Cove in The Legendary Starfy takes place in a freezing cove (which is somehow right next to hot springs) inhabited by penguins, and its night sky is laced with auroras in several levels.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: The frigid Hebra region in the northwest of the map is usually shrouded in a blizzard that reduces visibility, but occasionally the storm will clear. When this happens at night an aurora is visible. There are equally northern regions (Eldin and Akkala) that aren't as cold, and so don't have an aurora.
  • The Long Dark is set in the Canadian wilderness in winter, with auroras occasionally lighting up the night sky and powering electronics knocked out by the initial geomagnetic event.
  • The northern lights can be seen when visiting Forochel at night in The Lord of the Rings Online. Justified in that it's a polar landscape and the northernmost region on the map.
  • Monster Hunter:
    • Monster Hunter Portable 3rd: In Polar Field, the night sky shows a beautiful pattern of auroral lights leaning to the horizon, and colored green, purple, and pink. In later games where this area returns, the trope is averted, as it's set during the day instead of night, and the sky is deep gray due to the snowstorm.
    • Monster Hunter 4: The Frozen Seaway features auroral lights colored green, blue, purple, and pink; they're visible from Areas 2, 3, 7, and 9. Notably, they're seen even though this location is always visited during the day.
  • In the Age of Rime in realMyst, Atrus and his family learned how to induce the aurora technologically, and you can use the machinery left behind to create auroras in several different colors.
  • In Pokémon, there exists an ice-type attack named Aurora Beam. Pokémon Sun and Moon later added an ice-typed support move named Aurora Veil which can only be used during hailstorm.
  • The 2004 bowling game Polar Bowler has aurorae in its final three lanes. The first one is a static green aurora in the skybox of Mukluk Lanes. Aurora Bowl and North Bowl have bright blue and orange aurorae respectively as setpieces with animated textures.
  • One Random Event in Rimworld is an aurora in the night sky, though it can happen regardless of latitude since there's no guarantee the planet works like Earth. Due to the top-down perspective, you can't see it beyond shimmering lights on the ground, but any colonists awake to witness it get a little mood buff from the display.
  • A Short Hike has an aurora in the sky once Claire reaches the mountain's snowy summit.
  • Justified in the Sim Store exclusive town of Aurora Skies in The Sims 3, as it is based on an Icelandic township, and as such does feature auroras at nighttime. After all, it's all in the name.
  • Auroras are an important motif in Spirit of the North, which takes place in a setting heavily inspired by Iceland. The titular character is the Guardian of the Northern Lights, which seems to be an embodiment of the phenomenon. The player character, the fox, becomes imbued with its powers, which manifest with an auroral light. At the end of the game, you get to run around the night sky and spread the aurora.
  • Star Fox: Assault: When Fichina's planetary weather is stabilized once again during the fourth mission, the snowfall ends and the night sky clears up, revealing a beautiful green auroral belt. Unfortunately, Fox won't get to enjoy it, as by that point the Aparoids begin to counterattack and he has to retaliate from Falco's Arwing (and later from his).
  • The Oceanora Deep-Sea Cruise in the Streetpass Mii Plaza game Ultimate Angler lies in frosty waters filled with various icebergs, near the coasts of the Oceanora Island (which features various biomes including a tropical beach). This fishing spot takes place during nighttime and auroras shimmer in the dark skies, completing the polar atmosphere.
  • Subnautica: Below Zero, set in 4546B's north polar zone, can have visible auroras at night if you happen to be on or near the water's surface, or tromping around the ice cap.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Mario Kart 8: The Mario Kart: Double Dash!! racetrack Sherbet Land has been given, among many other visual improvements, a nighttime aurora-laced sky in its MK8 appearance. The DLC track themed after Animal Crossing is a Four-Seasons Level; the Winter version takes place at night, and like its source game, includes an aurora. Ironically, Ice Ice Outpost, which does take place in a polar environment, has no auroras in its sky since the race takes place during daytime.
    • Vancouver Velocity in Mario Kart Tour includes aurora borealis in the night sky, despite Vancouver only experiencing it a few times per year.
    • Most levels in the Frosted Glacier in New Super Mario Bros. U feature exquisite, multicolored northern lights in their night skies. Granted, the Frosted Glacier is one of the northernmost locations on the map, but it is on the same longitude as Layer-Cake Desert and Peach's Castle, and therefore most certainly not polar. Video game geography is at its best.
    • In Super Mario Galaxy, the entire Freezeflame Galaxy is surrounded by a massive green aurora borealis, which can even be seen from the fiery planets of the galaxy.
    • The aptly named Snowball Park in Super Mario 3D World has green auroras in its night sky as well.
    • Same goes with the skies above the Shiverian Iceburn Circuit in Super Mario Odyssey.
    • Paper Mario 64: Auroras can be seen throughout chapter 7's setting outside of Shiver City.
    • The Dreamy Mount Pajamaja skies in Mario & Luigi: Dream Team also are laced with multicoloured auroras.
    • In the 3DS remake of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga, the top outdoor floors in Joke's End, the frozen dungeon, shows a night sky laced with multicoloured auroras in the background.
    • Mario Party:
      • Mario Party 3: The Snowball Summit minigame, which returns in both The Top 100 and Superstars, takes place on a snowy mountaintop, underneath an aurora-laden night sky. The auroras change color during the course of the game.
      • Mario Party 4: One of the three puzzles in the mini-game "Photo Finish" is an ice rink in a snowy area underneath an aurora-laden night sky.
      • Mario Party 6: The minigame Snow Whirled takes place in a snowy ramp where each character has to perform spin tricks with their snowboards (by pressing buttons in a specific order) to earn score points. During night, the sky shows a beautiful auroral pattern colored pink, green, a small stripe of orange, and another of blue. Averted during day, when the sky only shows a few clouds.
      • Mario Party 7: At the end of the 8-Player Ice Battle mode, an aurora is visible to symbolize the celebration of the winning duo (before then, the weather is so harsh that the sky is very misty).
      • Super Mario Party: An aurora can be seen in the background in the mini-game "Tall Order".
  • Skies of Arcadia: Discovery #33 is "Aurora", found in the Lands of Ice under the Purple Moon. The description notes that once every few thousand years, a convergence of the planet's multiple moons creates auroras worldwide.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the Ice Climbers' home stage in the Summit, which is (at the start of the fight at least) located on top of a frozen mountain bathed in the shimmering lights of auroras borealis.
  • Them's Fightin' Herds: The sky has an aurora borealis in Reine City's "Wee Hours" stage variation.
  • The Winter Interior in Tomodachi Life looks like a nightly frozen fjord, and features, along with every other possible arctic cliché, shimmering auroras. Indoors.
  • WolfQuest Anniversary Edition: The aurora borealis can be seen sometimes at night. It actually can be visible in Yellowstone in real life on a clear sky, but only rarely and faintly.
  • In the World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King expansion, you can see an aurora in the skies of Northrend in a number of zones. Of course, given that the continent is the home base of the Undead Scourge and has a host of other native dangers, the display can be a dangerous distraction, especially around Icecrown Citadel.
  • In the Yoshi's Crafted World level "Slip-Slide Isle", which takes place on a frozen island, blue auroras shimmer in the night sky.

    Visual Novels 
  • Lands of Fire has them appear when Marmoo wrecks shit up. Like with mythology, they are a bad sign, essentially being compared to celestial wildfires.

    Western Animation 
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien: Mykdl'dy is a Tidally Locked Planet whose frozen half always has a shimmering blue aurora visible in the night sky.
  • Hilda: "The Deerfox": The aurora borealis is visible in the night sky above a snowy forest clearing full of deer foxes; it apparently has magic properties, as a light bridge extends from the borealis to earth, allowing the deer foxes to ascend to Another Dimension.
  • Season 2 of The Legend of Korra prominently features the Aurora as symbolic of the spirit world.
  • Molly of Denali: In "Turn On the Northern Lights," the gang finally gets to see the northern lights at the end of the episode, and it is the series' greatest demonstration of Scenery Porn. Bonus points for taking place during winter.
  • Ready Jet Go!: "Mindy Pet-sits" revolves around the gang trying to see the northern lights. They even go to the North Pole to try and do so. Meanwhile, Mindy has to stay on Earth and tend to a "sick" Sunspot...who was actually making a northern lights show just for Mindy. Then, at the end of the episode, everyone gets to see the real northern lights.
  • The Simpsons: In "22 Short Films About Springfield," When Skinner's kitchen catches fire, he tries to pass off the light from the flames as the aurora borealis. Chalmers believes him, despite the fact that it's the middle of the day, presumably not during winter, they're in a geographic region nowhere near the Arctic, and the supposed northern lights are only appearing indoors in Skinner's kitchen.

Aurora borealis? At this time of year, at this time of the day, in this part of the TV Tropes Wiki, localized entirely on this page?!