Stargazers could be treated to repeat of spectacular Northern Lights display
By Tom Wilkinson and Max McLean, PA
Aurora-watchers could be rewarded with another spectacular display of the Northern Lights, the Met Office has said.
The natural phenomenon was visible to the naked eye as far south as Devon on Wednesday night, due to a particularly strong solar flare, known as a coronal mass ejection.
And a Met Office space weather expert said there could be more stunning aurora borealis shows overnight as the conditions continue.
Krista Hammond said: “As was predicted by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre, a coronal mass ejection impacted with the Earth yesterday.
“The resulting strong geomagnetic storm meant the Northern Lights were visible across large areas of the UK overnight last night.
“We’ve had reports that the aurora could even be seen in some central areas of the UK, which is possible when a storm of this magnitude impacts the Earth.”
She said the storm left the sun on Tuesday and hit Earth last night, as predicted.
“Further geomagnetic storms are possible tonight and into the early hours tomorrow morning, due to the ongoing effects of the coronal mass ejection,” she said.
“This means there is the potential for further sightings of the Northern Lights overnight, although there will be spells of patchy cloud over Scotland which could limit visibility in places.”
Ms Hammond said more space weather events were expected over the coming years to around 2025 as the sun goes through its cycle of activity.
PA news agency photographer Owen Humphreys was treated to a stunning display of orange, pink and yellows in the sky above Derwentwater in the Lake District on Wednesday night.
He said: “This was one of the best I have seen in the UK for years.
“The reds and the greens were really vibrant and makes up for all the times we go out in the middle of the night and don’t see anything.”
Aurora-watcher Julie Winn, from Hexham, Northumberland, drove an hour into the Scottish Borders to find a dark patch of sky away from light pollution, and was delighted with what she saw.
She said: “It was better than I have seen for a long time, clearly visible to the naked eye, with subtle colours of pink and green above.”
For some, such as Paul Spackman, 54, this was the first time they had been able to see the phenomenon.
The graphic designer, from near Ennerdale in Cumbria, said he had been using apps for five years in an effort to catch a glimpse.
“I use a couple of apps on my phone which let me know the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights,” he told PA.
“I’ve been getting a lot of amber alerts over the last week or so but not not had any luck seeing anything.
“Last night, when I got a red alert on both apps, I popped on my dressing gown and went into the garden and spent some time scanning the sky.
“I was amazed at what I saw. I’ve never seen them before but I’ve always wanted to ever since I was young and was hoping one day to visit Norway to see them.
“Hard to put into words really, but it gave me goosebumps all over.”