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Weather wonder sparks Northern Lights show

Published 08/10/2015

Dunluce Castle by Jason Murphy.
Dunluce Castle by Jason Murphy.
Downhill House backlit by the Aurora. By Eoin McConnell
By Eoin McConnell
By Eoin McConnell
The Northern Lights on the north coast of Ireland last night (8th October). Pictured is the Giant's Causeway with the backdrop nature's stunning lightshow. Photography By Paul Moane
The Northern Lights on the north coast of Ireland last night (8th October). Pictured is Dunluce Castle with the backdrop nature's stunning lightshow. Photography By Paul Moane
From Newtownabbey looking over Belfast lough by Liam Hughes.
Aurora Borealis and the Plough from Slemish. By Andy Irwin
Aurora at the Mournes. By Ryno Image
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured from Ballyhalbert by Jonny Donnan
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured from Mallusk, Northern Ireland by Beverley Cripps
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured from Greenisland by Shane McKee
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured from Cultra (Seapark) by Jonathan Clark
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured over Donegal by Kenneth of the Donegal Weather Channel
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured over Donegal by Kenneth of the Donegal Weather Channel
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured over Donegal by Kenneth of the Donegal Weather Channel
The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, pictured over Belfast Lough from Groomsport. By John Mackle

Two coinciding space weather patterns have heightened the chance of Northern Lights sightings in the sky above the UK for the next few weeks, according to forecasters.

The Met Office said those in northern England, north Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland had an increased likelihood of seeing the phenomenon, known as aurora borealis, because of a burst of solar wind.

The natural wonder, usually caused by solar particles colliding in the atmosphere, could be seen overnight, with forecasters saying the "disturbance" was strong and the sky mainly clear in northern regions.

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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