Senja Aurora (Image Credit: Rune Engebo)

In a dazzling display of light that would put even the most extraordinary fireworks show to shame, an aurora—perhaps best known as the northern lights—paints the sky in a myriad of green and purple hues. The green color—by far the dominant color in this aurora, and with many others—is a byproduct of atomic oxygen, while purple comes from the nitrogen coursing through Earth's upper atmosphere.

The aurora's allure is increased by the beautiful scenery: the rugged, snow-capped peaks of Senja—an island in Norway. This image, taken by Rune Engebo, is 1 of 17 featured by the Royal Museums Greenwich in London. Next month, one of the photographers will be chosen for the "astronomy photographer of the year" award. (See a larger image here)

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