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Thread: Northern Lights - Aurora this weekend

  1. #1

    Northern Lights - Aurora this weekend

    The Northern Lights are on a lot of people's "must see" list but, in my experience, most people aren't willing to walk into their back garden to actually look.

    Over the last few days there have been several events on the sun which make it very likely that we will have displays of Northern Lights over the coming few days. Charged particles are heading our way. Now it is impossible to say when they will arrive and, indeed, it is impossible to be sure that they will hit the earth so this is all a balance of probabilities thing. However the first big blast might arrive about 2200 tonight with others to follow.

    Here in the UK the lights are generally easily seen, and strong displays are often seen right into the south of the country, if you have dark skies. You will not normally see them in light polluted urban areas and you will certainly not see them by peeking out the window during the ad break in Eastenders. Last year they were photographed from the Isle of Lewis (clear skies and no hills to cause clouds to hang about) on about 70 nights which, if you discount the summer months when it is daylight all the time, means they were seen 2 - 3 times per week during the dark winter nights. So, the best place to see them is right here at home.

    This weekend is important because we are coming to the end of the current solar cycle. The sun goes through a cycle and at the minute we are just at the end of a period of maximum sunspot activity, though it was a pretty weak period. Some scientists are suggesting that we might be entering a long period of solar minimum, such as gave us the Little Ice Age and frost fairs on the river Thames, and so it may be a long time (200 - 300 years) before we are seeing any northern lights again. So, if you want to see the northern lights then this weekend, or the next few months and weeks, might be the last chance in your lifetime.

    If you have clear skies and can get to somewhere with reduced light pollution then it is well worth keeping your eyes open over this coming weekend. It is also worth taking the kids out for a look as if we do enter a big minimum then the lights might be a very rare thing indeed for their lifetime. Even with light pollution it is possible, though not ideal, to see the lights and the following photos were taken in and urban area of the UK, one of them using a very simple point and shoot camera:

    You can watch the output of the magnetometer to give you some idea of the likely level of activity, big deviations from the blue line usually means there is something worth looking for as do spikes with sharply rising or falling edges.

    AuroraWatch UK
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:

  2. #2
    I was lucky enough to see the Northern lights off the coast of Norway a few years ago, all I can say is if you get the chance to see them then don't miss it, they are literally out of this world!

  3. #3
    Caorach, thanks for the information; just need to dissipate the rainclouds overhead now!

  4. #4
    Many years ago when working away I saw the Northern lights in Reading. I was staying in my caravan and went outside for a piss and the Northern lights were giving a great display.

  5. #5
    we have had some great shows through this winter including last night ,including light flashes like search lights panning over the sky starting early evening the moon rise drown's it out later on

  6. #6
    We have so much rain here, it will unfortunately hinder any attempt to observe the sky...

  7. #7
    I will be in the borders this weekend but the forecast is for thick cloud . Typical as where I Stalk is as dark as a very dark thing.


  8. #8
    Well, the good news is that nothing hit us last night so it hasn't happened yet. So, if you didn't get a chance to look last night then tonight might be the night.

    Of course there is always the risk that it will arrive during daylight hours which would be a bit of a downer but fingers crossed for tonight, and for clear skies.
    For self catering accommodation on the Isle of Lewis please visit:

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Psyxologos View Post
    We have so much rain here, it will unfortunately hinder any attempt to observe the sky...
    Rain??? Right now it's snowing here!
    I qwould love to see the Northern Lights and even try to photograph them but the weather forecast for the next few days is not looking too good with heavy rain and thick cloud, so it might put a block on it for me.

  10. #10
    If you do want to photograph them make sure you have a camera with a bulb exposure setting, I used about 20 second exposures and got some stunning pictures

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