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UK News Northern Lights expected over UK on Wednesday

16:22  14 march  2018
16:22  14 march  2018 Source:   news.sky.com

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Skies above the UK are set to turn technicolour on Wednesday night with the rare arrival of the Northern Lights . Aurora Watch UK has issued an alert saying the spectacle will be visible all over the country both to the naked eye and on camera.

" Over the next couple of days, there's a very real chance we could see the aurora in places around the UK . A wave of these particles are expected to reach Earth on Wednesday and give the Northern Lights a boost in electromagnetic activity.

Northern lights seen from Lapland © Other Northern lights seen from Lapland

A minor solar storm will result in increased magnetosphere activity on Wednesday, bringing with it the potential for supercharged Northern Lights.

The display is not expected to reach the heights of one last September, which followed the most powerful solar flare in a decade.

In the US, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has assessed the primary impact area as everywhere above 60 degrees latitude.

This stunning timelapse of Aurora from space was filmed by astronaut Paolo Nespoli. © Other This stunning timelapse of Aurora from space was filmed by astronaut Paolo Nespoli.

While this excludes the majority of England, the Aurora Borealis could be seen at this time of year over Wednesday night in the northernmost part of the country, localised entirely within the polewards part of the sky.

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Northern lights illuminate the sky over the beach of Flakstad, on Lofoten Islands, Arctic Circle, on September 5, 2017. According to the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center, a "strong" geomagnetic storm is expected to arrive late Wednesday and carry into Thursday.

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NOAA also warned that the electromagnetic storm could result in weak power grid fluctuations, and could also have a minor impact on satellite operations.

Speaking to Sky News, Daniel Billett, a PhD student in Space and Planetary Physics at Lancaster University, and a member of the AuroraWatch UK team which sends updates to people expecting Northern Lights said, "Today and tomorrow has been forecast for a G1 minor geomagnetic storm by the North Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Northern Lights as seen in Newtongrange in Midlothian. Pic: Fiona Horne © Other The Northern Lights as seen in Newtongrange in Midlothian. Pic: Fiona Horne

"This is due to fast streams of energetic particles finally making their way to Earth from the sun.

"Over the next couple of days, there's a very real chance we could see the aurora in places around the UK.

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Early Tuesday morning the Northern lights put on a spectacular show across most of North America and the dancing colors are expected to be back in full force again over the next two nights. All signs show that we should have Aurora activity overnight into the early parts of Wednesday and many are

Dancing northern lights in Sutherland, on the north coast of Scotland. Photo: Maciej Winiarczyk/ Ross Parry. The stunning green and purple lights of the aurora borealis as it appeared over Lough Neagh, in Northern Ireland, March 18 2015.

"We expect a storm of this magnitude might be visible in Scotland and parts of northern England and Ireland, but could extend further south if it's stronger than predicted.

Video: Time-lapse of the aurora borealis in Norway (BuzzVideos)

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"For the best possible chance to see the aurora, look out for clear, dark skies free of light pollution. Northward facing coastlines and high up rural areas tend to be good spots for aurora spotting."

Last September, two powerful solar flares caused brilliant Northern Lights in higher latitudes and disrupted radio communications over large areas of Earth. 

This week's solar storm did not originate from a solar flare, however, but from a coronal hole - a region where the surface of the sun is dark. Coronal holes are associated with "open" magnetic field lines and are where the high-speed solar wind originates as the holes allow particles to stream out into space.

A wave of these particles are expected to reach Earth on Wednesday and give the Northern Lights a boost in electromagnetic activity.

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