Science & Tech

When Northern Lights could be visible in the UK again

When Northern Lights could be visible in the UK again
Met Office explains the Northern Lights

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are expected to be visible again in the UK soon and could even be seen more regularly in years to come.

After a severe solar storm, the beautiful, rare phenomenon was visible throughout the UK and even as far south as France on May 10 and 11.

These breathtaking displays occur when charged particles collide with gases in the Earth's atmosphere around the magnetic poles, hence the name Northern Lights.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, a space weather expert for the Met Office said the sunspot region will rotate back towards Earth in the next 10-12 days which could mean more geomagnetic storms and therefore further displays of the phenomenon.

There could even be sightings of the Northern Lights before then.

A stock image of the Northern Lights on displayMichael Seamans, Getty Images

Krista 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."

The lights could be seen more frequently in years to come too as the sun is currently in the most active period of its 11-year cycle, according to Hammond.

"What we saw last weekend was quite a unique situation," she said.

"We had multiple eruptions of plasma from the sun, which also caught up with each other as they arrived at Earth.

"And then, when that interacted with the Earth's upper atmosphere, magnetic field, we viewed it as the aurora.

“And this coincided with clear skies, and it arrived overnight, so we were able to see it really far south. We got sightings across the whole of the UK from last weekend's event.

“While we would expect to see it more in the way of space weather, whether it's of the magnitude that allows us to see it at these southern latitudes is a little bit more tricky to forecast."

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