• Thursday, June 20, 2024


Northern lights on display across the UK following solar storm

The northern lights became visible following one of the strongest geomagnetic storms in years. Social media was flooded with pictures of auroras.

People visit St Mary’s lighthouse in Whitley Bay to see the northern lights, on May 10 in Whitley Bay, England. (Photo: Getty Images)

By: Vivek Mishra

The northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, were visible across the UK, delighting observers nationwide.

Excited onlookers shared images of the lights from various areas including Liverpool, Kent, Norfolk, Sussex, and parts of Scotland, reported the BBC.

This impressive phenomenon is typically only seen from northern regions of the British Isles.

The most powerful solar storm in more than two decades struck Earth on Friday, resulting in spectacular celestial light shows from Tasmania to Britain, according to AFP. This storm raised concerns of possible disruptions to satellites and power grids.

The northern lights became visible following one of the strongest geomagnetic storms in years, with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issuing a rare solar storm warning, increasing the chances of witnessing the lights.

Social media was flooded with pictures of auroras from northern Europe and Australasia.

“We’ve just woken the kids to go watch the Northern Lights in the back garden! Clearly visible with the naked eye,” said Iain Mansfield from Hertford, England, to AFP.

According to BBC Weather, clear skies, like those on Friday evening, offer a chance to see the lights from most parts of the UK, with higher probabilities in Northern Ireland, Scotland, and northern England.

BBC Weather presenter Elizabeth Rizzini stated, “It’s fantastic conditions, the skies are pretty clear at the moment,” advising that although some low cloud might appear in certain areas, the skies are generally clear.

She added, “Tonight’s the night but it will probably be visible tomorrow as well.”

Mathew Owens, a professor of space physics at the University of Reading, advised people to go outside and observe the spectacle, as the extent of its visibility would depend on the storm’s final strength, reported AFP.

“Go outside tonight and look would be my advice because if you see the aurora, it’s quite a spectacular thing,” he said. People can also use eclipse glasses to look for the sunspot cluster during the day.

What northern lights?

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon characterised by colourful lights dancing across the sky near the North Pole. These mesmerising lights appear in various shades of green, pink, purple, and sometimes even red or blue.

They occur when electrically charged particles from the sun, carried by solar winds, enter Earth’s atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen. This collision creates a stunning display of light, with the colours depending on the type of gas and altitude of the collision.

This spectacle is often visible in regions close to the Arctic Circle, including parts of Alaska, Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia. However, during particularly strong solar activity, the Northern Lights can be seen at lower latitudes, even as far south as the northern United States and Europe.

People from around the world travel to these regions for a chance to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Northern Lights, making it one of nature’s most sought-after attractions.

What is a solar storm?

A solar storm, also called a geomagnetic storm, occurs when disturbances in the Earth’s magnetosphere are caused by heightened solar activity, such as solar flares or coronal mass ejections from the Sun.

These events release charged particles into space, which, upon interaction with Earth’s magnetosphere, can lead to disruptions in various technologies and phenomena, including the northern lights.

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