Jim McMahon/Mapman®

In January, a photographer captured this swirl of glowing green light in the night sky over Iceland. This dazzling display is called the northern lights. Its official name is the aurora borealis (uh-ROR-uh bor-ee-AL-uhs).

Auroras are colorful bands of light most visible in areas close to the Earth’s poles. They form when electrically charged particles from the sun crash into gases in Earth’s atmosphere. The collision causes the sky to light up in shades of green, blue, purple, and pink.