The UK was treated to a rare glimpse of the Northern Lights after the natural display lit up skies across the country. One of nature’s true wonders, the Aurora Borealis could be seen as consisting of spectacular “curtains” of red and green lights, and was visible as far south as Gloucestershire, Essex and Norfolk last night (February 28).
But those in Scotland and northern England got the clearest view, with many taking to Twitter to share their experiences. Daisymay wrote: ‘You could see the Aurora Borealis in the Isle of Skye. So damn perdy.’
Richard Wilson, from Guildford, Surrey, who saw it from the air, added: ‘Great view of the Northern Lights from 30,000 feet over Scotland tonight. Awesome sight!’
The Light formations are usually only visible in the more northern parts of the UK so Alex Green, who works for the National Trust in Norfolk, was surprised when he saw them further south.
|Aurora Borealis, Embleton Bay, Northumberland, February 28, 2014.|
‘Wow, a life tick! Northern Lights over the north Norfolk Coast and visible with the naked eye! Just amazing!’ he said.
1. The Northern Lights are caused by the interaction of the solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun - and our planet's magnetic field and atmosphere.
2. As the solar wind approaches, it distorts the Earth's magnetic field and allows some charged particles from the Sun to enter the Earth's atmosphere at the magnetic north pole and the magnetic South Pole. Then, as these charged particles "excite" gases in our atmosphere, they make them glow - just like gas in a fluorescent tube.
3. The solar wind can cause the Earth's magnetic field lines to disconnect from our planet. When these field lines "snap back" into position, charged particles from the solar wind are again pushed into the Earth's atmosphere, causing aurora. The more magnetic field lines that disconnect and snap back, the further south the Northern Lights can be seen.
|Image courtesy of NOAA.|
To increase the chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis, scientists advise viewers to sign up to an alert service such as Aurora Watch UK, and head outside at "magnetic midnight" - between 8pm and 12am in the UK - to find a dark place with no light pollution.
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