Friday, 8 Dec 2023

Northern Lights to descend over UK in weekend ‘geomagnetic storm’

The Northern Lights may erupt in the skies above the UK this weekend, the Met Office has said.

Meteorologists believe the lights – which usually occupy the skies above nations like Finland and Sweden – will move further down the northern hemisphere between Saturday, November 11 and Sunday, November 12.

The unique phenomenon is caused when the sun releases plasma from its corona, the star’s outermost layer, during a “coronal mass ejection”.

The aurora’s bright rays ripple across the earth’s surface when they mingle with the planet’s magnetic field in what officials have termed “geomagnetic storms”.

The Met Office has said it is expecting a coronal mass ejection to hit tonight or early on Sunday, November 12.

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Posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, today, the organisation forecast “Moderate to Strong geomagnetic storms”.

The forecasters said: “We’re expecting a coronal mass ejection to arrive at Earth later on Saturday or early on Sunday, bringing Moderate to Strong geomagnetic storms.

“Depending on cloud cover, there’s a good chance of visible auroras in northern areas of the UK later on Saturday night.”

While it was not able to provide precise timings for the lights, the Met Office added Scotland and Northern Ireland would likely see the most intense aurora activity this weekend.

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The organisation said: “There is lower confidence regarding the timing of the peak geomagnetic activity, but with clear skies, the aurora is likely to be visible overhead across parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland and similar latitudes during the night of the 11th, with sightings possible as far south as central England and Wales.

“During the following nights reduced geomagnetic activity is expected, with aurora possible across northern Scotland, most likely from the night of 12th Nov onward.”

The forecast predicts people can catch a glimpse of a rare astronomical phenomenon in clear conditions, but some people will unfortunately spend the weekend under dense cloud.

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The forecast for the next couple of days is for developing clouds and rain, especially over the west.

The Met Office predicted cloud “thickening from the southwest” with rain reaching counties in western England “during the early hours” on Saturday before “spreading across much of the region by dawn”.

On Sunday, the rain will continue to push over the southwest “through the morning” ahead of some “drier and brighter spells” and later, more rain.

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