The Northern Lights expected to return on Saturday night - here's the best way to see this celestial spectacle

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By stefan armitage

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


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.


What are the Northern Lights?


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 Northern Lights over Rochester, New York. Credit: Anadolu / Getty

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.

Incredible displays on Friday night


Prior to Friday night’s display, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a rare solar storm warning, alerting people to the increased likelihood of witnessing the Northern Lights.

Although storms of this magnitude pose potential risks to infrastructure such as satellites and power grids, they also provide an unparalleled opportunity for skygazers to witness the beauty of the aurora borealis. 

In the US, the lights were visible as far south as Alabama and northern California, while in Europe, countries like Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark, and Poland were treated to the awe-inspiring sight. 

Social media platforms buzzed with captivating images captured by skywatchers eager to share the magic of the moment.


The Met Office and BBC Weather forecasted clear skies, offering optimal viewing conditions for enthusiasts across the UK.

The Northern Lights expected to return on Saturday night


Elizabeth Rizzini from BBC Weather described the conditions as "fantastic," with a high likelihood of sightings not only on Friday night but also possibly extending into Saturday. 

Meanwhile, Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon anticipated continued favorable conditions for Saturday night. 

“Conditions could continue on Saturday night, but we still have to work out some details on where exactly that will be,” he said, per The Independent

The Aurora Forecast from Saturday night's events. Credit: NOAA

Using your cell phone to see the Northern Lights


For those in the southern US who may not be able to see the aurora with the naked eye, experts suggested using smartphones to capture the phenomenon, as modern cellphone cameras are adept at capturing low-light scenes. 

Brent Gordon of the Space Weather Prediction Center said on Friday: "Cellphones are much better than our eyes at capturing light. 

"Just go out your back door and take a picture with a newer cellphone, and you'd be amazed at what you see in that picture versus what you see with your eyes."

Best conditions for seeing the Northern Lights


Speaking to CBS News, Rob Steenburgh - a space scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center - said: "If you happen to be in an area where it's dark and cloud-free and relatively unpolluted by light, you may get to see a fairly impressive aurora display.”

“That's really the gift from space weather, is the aurora,” Steenburgh added.

The Northern Lights seen in England. Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

Despite the potential challenges posed by these solar storms, they present a captivating opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Northern Lights, a natural wonder that never fails to captivate and inspire.

So, if you missed your opportunity to see the northern light last night (like I did), don’t forget to look up tonight!

Featured image credit: Anadolu / Getty

The Northern Lights expected to return on Saturday night - here's the best way to see this celestial spectacle

vt-author-image

By stefan armitage

Article saved!Article saved!

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


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.


What are the Northern Lights?


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 Northern Lights over Rochester, New York. Credit: Anadolu / Getty

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.

Incredible displays on Friday night


Prior to Friday night’s display, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued a rare solar storm warning, alerting people to the increased likelihood of witnessing the Northern Lights.

Although storms of this magnitude pose potential risks to infrastructure such as satellites and power grids, they also provide an unparalleled opportunity for skygazers to witness the beauty of the aurora borealis. 

In the US, the lights were visible as far south as Alabama and northern California, while in Europe, countries like Austria, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark, and Poland were treated to the awe-inspiring sight. 

Social media platforms buzzed with captivating images captured by skywatchers eager to share the magic of the moment.


The Met Office and BBC Weather forecasted clear skies, offering optimal viewing conditions for enthusiasts across the UK.

The Northern Lights expected to return on Saturday night


Elizabeth Rizzini from BBC Weather described the conditions as "fantastic," with a high likelihood of sightings not only on Friday night but also possibly extending into Saturday. 

Meanwhile, Met Office spokesman Stephen Dixon anticipated continued favorable conditions for Saturday night. 

“Conditions could continue on Saturday night, but we still have to work out some details on where exactly that will be,” he said, per The Independent

The Aurora Forecast from Saturday night's events. Credit: NOAA

Using your cell phone to see the Northern Lights


For those in the southern US who may not be able to see the aurora with the naked eye, experts suggested using smartphones to capture the phenomenon, as modern cellphone cameras are adept at capturing low-light scenes. 

Brent Gordon of the Space Weather Prediction Center said on Friday: "Cellphones are much better than our eyes at capturing light. 

"Just go out your back door and take a picture with a newer cellphone, and you'd be amazed at what you see in that picture versus what you see with your eyes."

Best conditions for seeing the Northern Lights


Speaking to CBS News, Rob Steenburgh - a space scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Weather Prediction Center - said: "If you happen to be in an area where it's dark and cloud-free and relatively unpolluted by light, you may get to see a fairly impressive aurora display.”

“That's really the gift from space weather, is the aurora,” Steenburgh added.

The Northern Lights seen in England. Credit: Ian Forsyth / Getty

Despite the potential challenges posed by these solar storms, they present a captivating opportunity to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of the Northern Lights, a natural wonder that never fails to captivate and inspire.

So, if you missed your opportunity to see the northern light last night (like I did), don’t forget to look up tonight!

Featured image credit: Anadolu / Getty