Dawn of the north wind
The image on the right was taken in the municipality of Muoino, 150km inside the arctic circle in Northern Finland. I have been there many times hunting aurora and during the last trip, after spending four nights in temperatures of -20c to -30c, I was rewarded with a huge aurora storm that lasted all of 15 minutes. Short but very intense. Three digital cameras (Nikon D70, D70s and a Canon20D kindly loaned to me by Canon UK) captured some amazing images as the storm ran from horizon to horizon. After 10 minutes the Li-on batteries started to go flat in the extreme low temperatures. Changing batteries in the dark with huge mitts on while looking up adding to the drama of getting the shot.
The etymology of the nomenclature seems much later than the latin and Greek origins would suggest with it being as recently as the 17th century that the term Aurora Borealis was first used
In 1620, a Frenchman, Pierre Gassendi, saw the northern lights and named them after the Roman goddess, Aurora. He also added the word 'borealis' for the Roman god of the north wind, Boreas. From that point onwards the lights became known to scientists as the aurora borealis.
Aurora was a Roman deity, counterpart of the Greek mythological Titan goddess of the dawn Eos. Eos would rise from her home at the edge of Oceanus, the sea that surrounded the world, to open the gates for her brother Helios to ride his chariot across the sky each day. Aurora's sister was Selene, the moon. She had many husbands and one of her sons was Boreas, the north wind. The literal translation of Aurora Borealis is therefore "Dawn of the North wind."
However! Boreas was a Greek deity, not Roman. The roman deities for the winds were "Venti" the north wind, Aquilo or Aquilon, sometimes Septentrio was used to mean Northern wind. It is still widely accepted that the term comes from Roman mythology.
The Finnish word for Aurora translates as Firefoxes, and whistling will make them appear. I did a lot of whistling on this last trip.
The Etruscan name for the goddess Aurora was Thesant
From Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet;
But all so soon as the all-cheering sun
Should in the furthest east begin to draw
The shady curtains from Aurora's bed,
Away from the light steals home my heavy son...
The collective noun for polar bears is an aurora of Polar bears