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How to spot the Northern Lights in the UK this week as geomagnetic solar storm brings the Aurora to the UK



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British stargazers have been treated to the 'best light show on earth' this week as stunning displays of the Northern Lights have been watched by people living across the UK.

Clear autumnal skies and an unusually powerful geomagnetic solar storm has meant that it isn't just high-altitude regions close to the Arctic that are catching sight of the spectacular phenomenon this week:

The colourful Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Scandinavian regions. Image: Stock photo.
The colourful Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Scandinavian regions. Image: Stock photo.

What are the Northern Lights?

Also known as the Aurora Borealis, nature's light show is created when a stream of charged particles which are escaping the sun meet with our planet's magnetic field and atmosphere.

The dazzling display of moving sky lights in colours and shades of green, red, purple and pink are most commonly seen in places such as Iceland, Norway, Finland and Greenland as well as sometimes, the most northern parts of Scotland.

What is happening this week?

The Met Office says a particularly strong geomagnetic storm has meant that weather watchers in other parts of the UK are finding that they are able to see the Northern Lights this week, many for the very first time.

Described as a coronal mass injection - the huge eruption of charged particles has meant that glimpses of the Northern Lights have been reported in parts of the Midlands, Yorkshire, Mid-Wales and Norfolk alongside some reports from those watching the skies as far south as Devon.

What are the ideal conditions?

Alongside the super-charged storm that has brought the Northern Lights to parts of the Northern Hemisphere that are much further away from the polar regions, it isn't the only requirement for a good showing of the Aurora Borealis.

Clear skies are also essential, and so while the tail end of this storm passes, further displays will be unlikely if patches of cloud move in.

Light pollution will also have a bearing on how successful your stargazing is.

Those catching clear displays of the Northern Lights in the UK are finding more remote areas with fewer street lights is helping them spot the streaking moving colours above them.

People across the UK have been treated to sights of the Northern Lights this week
People across the UK have been treated to sights of the Northern Lights this week

Get some extra help

While social media has been awash this week with reports of the Northern Lights and people's photographs, there are also a number of Aurora forecasting apps and websites, which will help you keep tabs on the most likely times to see a display.

Aurora Watch UK, run by scientists at Lancaster University, gives regular reports on activity and the chances of seeing the lights in the sky across the UK.

For more details about their work and to get the latest forecast click here.