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Dawlish News

12 Sep 2014 22:02

The Northern Lights might become more of a southern phenomenon tonight when the Aurora Borealis could be visible across the UK.

A spectacle which normally only occurs in the northern parts of the Nordic countries - Norway, Sweden and Finland and in Alaska, Canada and Russia – the Northern Lights create an amazing display in the skies, illuminating the northern horizon in a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red as though the sun is rising at an unusual angle.

However, tonight, the British Geological Survey says it is the best chance to see the elusive natural wonder in years from across the UK – and it is possible the light show could be seen in the south of England.

Some experts say the phenomenon could be visible from as far south as the Cotswolds while the Exeter-based Met Office said the best chances of seeing the aurora are to the north of a line from Tyneside across to the north coast of northern Ireland, but it may be visible far further south, depending on the weather conditions and cloud cover.

Alan Thomson, head of geomagnetism at the British Geological Survey, said there were slim chances of seeing the lights from areas such as London – saying it was “unlikely” but nevertheless “possible”.

A strong geomagnetic storm is heading in the direction of the Earth and is expected to hit tonight, meaning that by nightfall, those able to find clear, dark skies are in with a chance of witnessing the multi-coloured light show, which occurs when charged particles collide with our atmosphere.

The phenomenon was witnessed by a few in the South West in 2010, but the last time the Northern Lights were visible with a significant display for this part of the world, was 151 years ago.

Anyone wanted to hunt for places to spot the light show should keep away from urban light pollution, find spots with good views of the horizon in the north and try to get onto higher ground.

AuroraWatch UK offers a lights alerts service via email, Twitter and Facebook (see On its site it also provides a detailed map of some of the best places in Britain from which to photograph the lights (

The impact of the solar storm was expected to be felt by early evening with the strongest readings reaching their peak by midnight. Experts suggested that between midnight and 3am would be the optimum time for views of the lights.

The aurora season runs from late September or early October to late March and the best places to see them are in the Arctic regions – especially places such as Northern Norway.



12 Sep 2014 22:37

I saw them up close in Norway a few years ago, they were magical.   If we saw them as a matter of course in this country I wonder if we might all calm down a bit?   Without doubt Devon offers food for the soul too, do we end up taking such things for granted when there's easy access to them? 

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