The Northern Lights could be visible in the UK again - and it'll be sometime soon

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By Michelle H

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Get ready for a potential Northern Lights show in the United Kingdom, and it's happening sooner than expected, thanks to a significant solar storm recently detected on the Sun's surface. 

This cosmic event, which occurred on Tuesday (May 14), surpasses previous ones in the current solar cycle, spanning an area 15 times wider than Earth itself. While the eruption poses no immediate threat to Earth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns of possible geomagnetic impacts and infrastructure disruptions, such as GPS and power loss.

Despite the eruption occurring on a Sun-facing side away from Earth, the aftermath of solar flares like this X8.7-class event could still reach our planet, potentially causing radio blackouts and satellite damage.

Credit: Anadolu / Getty

While hopes for repeated Northern Lights displays remain uncertain due to solar mass ejections veering away from Earth, experts suggest that in about two weeks, the Sun's orientation may change, leading to elevated chances of geomagnetic storms and auroras over the UK.

Based on estimates, this could mean the return of the Northern Lights to the UK around May 28, though experts will refine predictions as the window of opportunity approaches.

"It important to note that active region 3664 may persist for two weeks or longer and therefore will once again be oriented towards the Earth," Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Warwick, Ravindra Desai told Metro. "So in two weeks there is an elevated chance of further major geomagnetic storms and aurora over the UK."

The Northern Lights - also known as aurora borealis - made a dazzling appearance across the skies of the UK and US on Friday (May 10), treating sky watchers to a rare celestial spectacle.

Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

Delighted onlookers from countries across the US and Europe took to social media to share breathtaking images of the lights, which illuminated the night with vibrant hues of pink, purple, and green.

The awe-inspiring phenomenon manifests as vibrant, swirling curtains of light dancing across the night sky, displaying a mesmerizing array of colors ranging from emerald green to rosy pink and fiery scarlet.

This celestial spectacle is created by the interaction of charged particles from the Sun with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. As these charged particles collide with atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The distinct colors of the aurora are a result of different gases in the Earth's atmosphere being energized by the incoming charged particles. Nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, with oxygen atoms emitting predominantly green light - the most common color observed in the Northern Lights. 

Nitrogen atoms, on the other hand, emit hues of purple, blue, and pink.

The most breathtaking displays of auroras occur when the Sun releases large clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which intensify the interaction between solar particles and Earth's magnetic field, amplifying the brilliance and extent of the auroral displays.

Fancy yourself a gamer? Think you can top our leaderboard? Then check out the new VT Games! From thrilling puzzles to classic card games, there's something new to play every day!
Featured image credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

The Northern Lights could be visible in the UK again - and it'll be sometime soon

vt-author-image

By Michelle H

Article saved!Article saved!

Get ready for a potential Northern Lights show in the United Kingdom, and it's happening sooner than expected, thanks to a significant solar storm recently detected on the Sun's surface. 

This cosmic event, which occurred on Tuesday (May 14), surpasses previous ones in the current solar cycle, spanning an area 15 times wider than Earth itself. While the eruption poses no immediate threat to Earth, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) warns of possible geomagnetic impacts and infrastructure disruptions, such as GPS and power loss.

Despite the eruption occurring on a Sun-facing side away from Earth, the aftermath of solar flares like this X8.7-class event could still reach our planet, potentially causing radio blackouts and satellite damage.

Credit: Anadolu / Getty

While hopes for repeated Northern Lights displays remain uncertain due to solar mass ejections veering away from Earth, experts suggest that in about two weeks, the Sun's orientation may change, leading to elevated chances of geomagnetic storms and auroras over the UK.

Based on estimates, this could mean the return of the Northern Lights to the UK around May 28, though experts will refine predictions as the window of opportunity approaches.

"It important to note that active region 3664 may persist for two weeks or longer and therefore will once again be oriented towards the Earth," Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of Warwick, Ravindra Desai told Metro. "So in two weeks there is an elevated chance of further major geomagnetic storms and aurora over the UK."

The Northern Lights - also known as aurora borealis - made a dazzling appearance across the skies of the UK and US on Friday (May 10), treating sky watchers to a rare celestial spectacle.

Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

Delighted onlookers from countries across the US and Europe took to social media to share breathtaking images of the lights, which illuminated the night with vibrant hues of pink, purple, and green.

The awe-inspiring phenomenon manifests as vibrant, swirling curtains of light dancing across the night sky, displaying a mesmerizing array of colors ranging from emerald green to rosy pink and fiery scarlet.

This celestial spectacle is created by the interaction of charged particles from the Sun with gases in the Earth's atmosphere. As these charged particles collide with atmospheric gases, they energize atoms and molecules, causing them to emit light.

The distinct colors of the aurora are a result of different gases in the Earth's atmosphere being energized by the incoming charged particles. Nitrogen and oxygen are the two most abundant gases in the atmosphere, with oxygen atoms emitting predominantly green light - the most common color observed in the Northern Lights. 

Nitrogen atoms, on the other hand, emit hues of purple, blue, and pink.

The most breathtaking displays of auroras occur when the Sun releases large clouds of particles known as coronal mass ejections (CMEs), which intensify the interaction between solar particles and Earth's magnetic field, amplifying the brilliance and extent of the auroral displays.

Fancy yourself a gamer? Think you can top our leaderboard? Then check out the new VT Games! From thrilling puzzles to classic card games, there's something new to play every day!
Featured image credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty