The aurora borealis is a naturally-occurring colored light display that appears in the sky of the northern latitudes of the planet Earth. The effect is produced by the collision of charged particles, mostly electrons but also protons and heavier particles, from the magnetosphere, with atoms and molecules of the Earth's upper atmosphere.

In 1893, Samuel Clemens mentioned Alaska's aurora borealis to a young Jack London, saying that he should follow his dreams and write about them. (TNG: "Time's Arrow, Part II")

In 2375, Captain Kathryn Janeway compared the kolyan kolyar, an astronomical phenomenon that occurred in the Delta Quadrant, to the aurora borealis. (VOY: "Counterpoint")

Earth's aurora borealis was referred to in several scripts. The script of TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before" drew a parallel between the aurora borealis and the galactic barrier, describing the latter as "a display of energy similar to Earth's Aurora Borealis, a flaring curtain of energy." Similarly, the shooting script of Star Trek: The Motion Picture described the V'ger cloud, when seen from a distance at the start of the film, as vaguely resembling "an Aurora Borealis: flaring colors from the fringes, beautiful yet ominous." In the final scene of the script for DS9: "Chimera", Odo was said to have transformed into "a gossamer cloud of plasma-like energy, an aurora borealis of golden color and light."

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