Belfast Telegraph

Northern Lights pictured from Belfast to Ballyhalbert - and even as far south as Cork

The UK and Ireland have been treated to stunning views of the Aurora Borealis

By Claire Cromie

Northern Ireland was treated to a spectacular Northern Lights show last night thanks to two coinciding space weather patterns.

The Met Office said the UK had an increased likelihood of seeing the aurora borealis, because of a burst of solar wind - and they weren't wrong.

Clear skies meant the phenomenon was visible as south as Cork, with its green hue a delight for skywatchers in Belfast.

The natural wonder, usually caused by solar particles colliding in the atmosphere, may continue to be visible over the next few weeks with forecasters saying the "disturbance" last night was strong.

The improved chances of a sighting were down to the combined effect of a "coronal hole" near the Sun's equator, which had aligned with Earth and was sending high-speed solar winds to buffet the planet, and the time of year.

A Met Office spokesman said: "We are now in a period, lasting a few weeks, where these two factors are working together to increase the chances of geomagnetic disturbances, which in turn bring with them the aurora.

"The strength of the disturbance directly relates to how far south the aurora is visible, or how far north if you are in the southern hemisphere, and of course you need clear skies to see it.

"The season of the year has an influence. The science behind this is not fully understood, but the two equinoctial periods in spring and autumn tend to produce an increase in aurora compared with winter and summer."

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