Sky-watchers could be set for another treat tonight after the weekend’s Northern Lights display dazzled across the UK. People living as far south as Cornwall were amazed to see the Aurora Borealis on Sunday night, even though the phenomenon is usually only seen in high latitude regions closer to the Arctic such as Norway.
Usually, only Scotland and parts of northern England are lucky enough to see the Northern Lights - but this time they were sighted all the way out to southern England in areas such as Cornwall and Kent.
The Met Office confirmed late on Sunday that a “coronal hole high speed stream" had combined with "a rather fast coronal mass ejection" leading to Aurora sightings across the UK. And forecasters added that the Northern Lights are likely to be visible again in parts of the UK tonight (Monday, February 27).
What is the Aurora Borealis?
Aurora is caused by atoms and molecules in our atmosphere colliding with particles from the sun, according to Royal Museums Greenwich. The wavy patterns of light are caused by the lines of force in the Earth’s magnetic field, and the different colours are made by different gasses. The green is characteristic of oxygen, while the purple, blue or pink are caused by nitrogen.
Best place to see the Northern Lights in the UK on Monday, February 27
The Met Office said in a tweet shared just before 6.30pm on Sunday: "The Aurora Borealis may be visible as far south as central England tonight where skies remain clear. The Northern Lights are also likely to be seen again on Monday night."
Based on the Met Office’s map, there is a possibility that the Aurora Borealis could be visible from approximately 7pm tonight until about 4am tomorrow morning. The Met Office’s video indicates a “100 per cent” probability of the aurora, with the tip of Scotland showing a red tinge from about 9pm tonight.
The further north you are, the more likely you are to see the display. If you’re on Twitter, @aurorawatchuk is worth a look - the account is run by space physicists at Lancaster University who will tweet when the Aurora may be visible from the UK.
Wherever you are, the conditions need to be right - dark and clear, with as little light pollution as possible.