Galileo Galilei gave the Northern Lights their latin name, Aurora Borealis. A fitting description, to say the least.
Aurora is the Roman goddess of dawn. Her siblings are Sol and Luna, the sun and the moon. But to the Greeks Aurora is also the mother of Anemoi, the winds. Aurora fell in love with the mortal Tithonus. As he aged Aurora grieved and asked Jupiter to grant him immortality. Aurora’s wish was granted, but she had failed to ask for eternal youth. So instead Aurora’s great love turned into an immortal old man. Aurora solved the problem by transforming Tithonus into a grasshopper. The moral of the story – be careful what you wish for!
Borealis is derived from the word Borea, the Greek word for the north wind.
Borealis is derived from the word Borea, the Greek word for the north wind. The god Borea was no easy god to tame, often associated with wild horses, untamed and with a fierce temper. Well – pretty much the obvious messenger for a cold north wind. Borea was in love with Orithyia. The love wasn’t mutual, but Borea didn’t care. In his anger he kidnapped Orithyia and she bore him two sons.
In some way, you could say that Galileo really nailed it when he named this beautiful phenomenon after those two gods. Light and untamed strength.