Saturday, June 22, 2024

Exact time you could spot Northern Lights & where you’ll get the best view

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THE best time and place to watch the Northern Lights this weekend has been revealed. 

The Aurora Borealis dazzled the nation last weekend – and is set to make another appearance in coming days. 

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Last weekend’s stunning display could be seen as far south as Minster on Sea in KentCredit: Alamy

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This weekend, northern parts of the country may yet be able to catch another glimpse of the phenomenon.

A “red alert” has been issued – meaning aurora will be visible by eye and camera from anywhere in the UK.

However, some parts of Britain will get a better show than others. 

The Met Office space weather department says “enhancement to the aurora is likely into early May 18” in the Northern Hemisphere.

They added: “The aurora may become visible as far south as parts of Scotland where skies are clear.

“Mainly background aurora conditions are expected thereafter.”

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are large expulsions of plasma from the sun.

The forecaster’s space weather map even shows us what is the best time to catch a glimpse.

It shows that the lights will hit the northern top of Scotland at midnight on Sunday.

MORE DISPLAYS TO COME

Met Office space weather expert Krista Hammond said the sunspot region will be rotated back towards Earth in 10 to 12 days’ time, paving the way for further geomagnetic storms and displays of the Northern Lights.

She said: “The sunspot region will be be coming back round onto the Earth facing side of the sun.

“We’re currently at solar maximum and we’re seeing more sunspots.

“If we see more sunspots, we see this increased frequency in space weather and therefore the aurora.”

The forecaster downplayed the chances of a full repeat of last weekend’s display, but said more solar activity would mean a good chance of sightings “in the coming weeks, months and years”.

“It was such a unique set of circumstances that happened last weekend.

“The chances of the same sunspots doing the same thing again – It’s probably quite slim.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if it comes around and there’s some activity on it, but it won’t be I doubt, a repeat performance.”

Where displays can be seen in the UK is dictated by the “strength of geomagnetic storming”, she said.

There may even be some smaller mass ejections on their way to Earth in the coming days with the potential to create more beautiful displays, Ms Hammond said.

“There are a couple of mass ejections on their way to Earth.

“They’re a lot less powerful than what we saw last weekend, but they could bring aurora displays across predominantly northern parts of the UK, such as Scotland, Northern Ireland, north of England.

“Just because we’re not seeing aurora across the whole of the UK, it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to see it in some areas,” she said.

It comes after scientists in the Space and Planetary Physics group at Lancaster University’s Department of Physics issued a “red alert” for Aurora Borealis.

AuroraWatch UK explained: “Aurora is likely to be visible by eye from Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland; possibly visible from elsewhere in the UK.

“Photographs of aurora are likely from anywhere in the UK.”

The visibility of the Northern Lights was increased because of an “extreme” geomagnetic storm, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

What are the Northern Lights?

Aurora displays occur when charged particles collide with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere around the magnetic poles.

In the northern hemisphere, most of this activity takes place within a band known as the aurora oval, covering latitudes between 60 and 75 degrees.

When activity is strong, this expands to cover a greater area – which explains why displays can be occasionally seen as far south as the UK.

The visibility of the Northern Lights was increased on Friday because of an “extreme” geomagnetic storm, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The phenomena appears as beautiful dancing green and purple ribbons of light that have captivated people for millennia.

The NOAA said the G5 geomagnetic storm, which is considered extreme and is the strongest level of geomagnetic storm, hit earth last Thursday.

The cause of this storm was a “large, complex” sunspot cluster and is 17 times the diameter of earth, with the last storm with a G5 rating hitting earth in October 2003, causing power outages in Sweden.

Brits could get another glimpse of the Northern Lights tonight

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Brits could get another glimpse of the Northern Lights tonightCredit: Reuters

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