The northern lights are on elevated activity tonight and for the next few nights. A series of coronal mass ejection (CMEs) accompanied by a huge solar storm from the sun is set to light up our skies, according to the Met Office’s Space Weather, increasing the chances of a show above the northern UK specifically north-eastern Scotland.
The northern lights, also known as aurora borealis, are expected to put on a dazzling display in the skies above the northern UK, particularly north-eastern Scotland, in the coming nights. This rare and awe-inspiring natural phenomenon is set to be intensified by a series of coronal mass ejections (CMEs) accompanied by a massive solar storm from the sun, as predicted by the Met Office’s Space Weather.
Aurora borealis occurs when charged particles from the sun collide with the Earth’s magnetic field, resulting in a stunning display of colourful lights in the night sky. The most common colours of aurora borealis are green and pink, but they can also appear as red, yellow, blue, and purple, depending on the type of gas in the atmosphere and the altitude at which the aurora occurs.
The northern UK, particularly north-eastern Scotland, is known to be one of the best places in the world for observing the northern lights. The region’s high latitude and clear, dark skies provide optimal conditions for witnessing this mesmerizing natural phenomenon. With the anticipated increase in auroral activity due to the CMEs and solar storm, the chances of spotting the northern lights in this region are even higher.
Aurora sightings in the UK are relatively rare, but they do occur from time to time. The last major aurora borealis event in the UK was in 2017, when the northern lights were visible as far south as Oxfordshire and Norfolk. However, the upcoming event is expected to be particularly remarkable, with elevated activity and a higher likelihood of sightings.
For those lucky enough to witness the northern lights, the experience can be truly magical. The dancing lights in the sky create an otherworldly atmosphere that leaves observers in awe of the beauty and grandeur of nature. Many describe the aurora borealis as a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle that is worth staying up late or waking up early to see.
In addition to viewing the northern lights from the ground, there are also unique opportunities to witness this natural wonder from the air. Passengers on flights that pass through the polar regions, such as those flying from the UK to North America or Scandinavia, may have the chance to see the aurora borealis from above. The view from an airplane can offer a different perspective, with the lights appearing as a glowing ribbon or curtain spread across the horizon.
There is a growing chance of seeing the northern lights over the coming few nights, especially Thursday night
Aurora may be visible where skies remain clear across Scotland, as well as potentially as far south as Northern Ireland, north Wales, northern and central England pic.twitter.com/tTns8oK7L6
— Met Office (@metoffice) April 19, 2023
If you’re planning to try and catch a glimpse of the northern lights in the coming nights, here are some tips for optimal viewing:
- Find a location away from city lights: Light pollution can diminish the visibility of the northern lights, so try to find a spot that is far away from artificial lights, preferably in a rural or remote area.
- Check the weather forecast: Clear skies are essential for seeing the northern lights, so keep an eye on the weather forecast and choose a night with clear skies and minimal cloud cover.
- Be patient: Aurora borealis can be unpredictable, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll see them. Be prepared to wait for a while, and bring warm clothes, snacks, and a hot beverage to stay comfortable during your aurora-watching session.
- Bring a camera: Capturing the northern lights in photographs can be a rewarding experience. Bring a camera with a tripod to capture long-exposure shots and experiment with different settings to get the best results.
- Look to the north: The northern lights typically appear in the northern part of the sky, so face north and scan the horizon for any signs of activity. The lights may start as faint glows that gradually intensify into a colourful display.
Remember, observing the northern lights is a natural phenomenon, and there’s no guarantee of seeing them.