I remember when I first witnessed the Northern Lights, I was about ten years old and I was terrified. I don’t know why, but I remember standing on the cliff top, at home in North Yorkshire, looking out past the lights of Middlesbrough and watching these strange shapes move around the sky. They filled me with fear, I didn’t sleep that night. Today, I’m still moved by the Aurora Borealis, one of the most amazing natural phenomenon’s known to man, although it’s no longer by terror, but total awe. It leaves me rooted to the spot staring at the sky, lost for words.
Last night, Sunday 6th March was the most vivid display I have ever seen, columns of green light were clearly visible to the naked eye, and I was firmly locked in the garden watching the stunning display.
The powerful geomagnetic storm that caused the phenomenon to be visible so far south is nearly over but there is a chance the lights will be visible tonight (Monday) in the north of the UK.
The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights are caused by the interaction of solar wind, a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun, and our planet’s magnetic field and atmosphere.
As the solar wind approaches it distorts the Earth’s magnetic field and allows some charged particles from the Sun to enter into the Earth’s atmosphere at the magnetic North Pole and the magnetic South Pole. When this happens a ring of auroras on the magnetic poles called the annulus is created. If there is a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun (a massive burst of gas containing electromagnetic radiation) while the aurora is sat on the magnetic poles it forces it into a lower latitude. When all these conditions take place at the same time, the Northern Lights can be visible. A mirror image of the display in the North takes place at the South pole.
Did you manage to see the the Aurora Borealis and did you take any photos? Let me know in the comments below.