Northern Lights Could Illuminate UK Skies
- Northern Lights Could Illuminate UK Skies
Their unusual close timing and direct path toward Earth has raised concerns that GPS signals, radio communications and power transmissions could be disrupted.
Thomas Berger, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Centre in the US, said: “The unique thing about this event is that we’ve had two in close succession and the CMEs could possibly be interacting on their way to Earth, at the Earth’s orbit or beyond. We just don’t know that yet.”
Sky-gazers should look at around midnight to get the best chance of seeing the lights, also known as the aurora borealis.
Some cloud and fog patches are expected tonight but forecasters say there will also be some clear skies.
Getting away from the artificial light of urban areas also makes viewing easier.
Nasa said its Solar Dynamics Observatory filmed one of the CMEs, which peaked at 1.48pm (Eastern US time) on Wednesday.
A spokesman for Nasa said: “Solar flares are powerful bursts of radiation. Harmful radiation from a flare cannot pass through Earth’s atmosphere to physically affect humans on the ground.
“However – when intense enough – they can disturb the atmosphere in the layer where GPS and communications signals travel.
“This flare is classified as an X1.6 class flare. ‘X-class’ denotes the most intense flares, while the number provides more information about its strength.”
The usually high strength of the flare prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Space Weather Prediction Centre to issue an alert.
Mr Berger added: “We don’t expect any ummanageable impacts to national infrastructure from these solar events at this time, but we are watching these events closely.”
In February, the Northern Lights were seen as far south as Essex, south Wales, Gloucestershire and Norfolk