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Science

11th Nov 2023

The Northern Lights could be visible in the UK tonight

Joseph Loftus

Remember to look up

The Northern Lights are a spectacle many travel for hundreds or even thousands to take a look at, but this weekend they could even be visible from your bedroom window.

That’s right folks, you see, the Northern Lights, or the Aurora Borealis, are the beautiful end result of a ‘coronal mass ejection’ which the Met Office describes as the large expulsion of plasma from the sun’s corona.

When these particles hit our atmosphere they create this mass aurora and the absolutely stunning phenomena we know as the Northern Lights.

Nasa explain: “Coronal mass ejections (CME’s) are huge bubbles of coronal plasma threaded by intense magnetic field lines that are ejected from the Sun over the course of several hours.m CME’s often look like huge, twisted rope, which scientists call “flux rope”.

And now you could be able to see them all from your back garden.

Taking to X, the Met Office explained: “We’re expecting a coronal mass ejection to arrive at Earth later on Saturday or early on Sunday, bringing Moderate to Strong geomagnetic storms. Depending on cloud cover, there’s a good chance of visible auroras in northern areas of the UK later on Saturday night.”

Of course if you want to get a good look at them you’d ideally want to be somewhere in the complete darkness, away from light pollution. You don’t need special equipment though, as the naked eye is good enough.

The Met Office also explained on their website: “From later on 11th Nov until 12th Nov, Minor or Moderate geomagnetic storming is expected to develop due to the arrival of a coronal mass ejection, with a chance of Strong geomagnetic storming occurring.

“There is lower confidence regarding the timing of the peak geomagnetic activity, but with clear skies aurora is likely to be visible overhead across parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and similar latitudes during the night of the 11th, with sightings possible as far south as central England and Wales.

“During the following nights reduced geomagnetic activity is expected, with aurora possible across northern Scotland, most likely from the night of 12th Nov onward.”

So remember, when you’re out and about later on, take a look up.

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