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Northern Lights put on spectacular show for UK stargazers

Published 07/03/2016

Stargazers across the UK were treated to a dazzling display of the Northern Lights on Sunday evening.

The aurora borealis was visible as far south as Oxfordshire as skies cleared, painting the night sky with shades of green, purple and blue.

The ethereal spectacle is caused by charged solar particles interacting with the Earth's magnetic field and is usually only visible in the far north of Scotland.

A "lucky combination" of conditions in the lower atmosphere and in space meant the phenomenon was visible across swathes of the country , Met Office space weather adviser Amanda Townsend said.

"Once in a while the solar winds are enhanced to levels stronger than normal, with particles at higher speeds, and on this occasion it has connected really well with the Earth's magnetic field."

In addition to the cosmic weather being just right, conditions closer to the ground favoured those who ventured out into the cold March night.

Many took to social media to share their photos of the Northern Lights, including views from Oxfordshire, the Isle of Man, Donegal and Aberdeen.

Mark McIntyre tweeted several images showing a purple tinge to skies around seven miles north of Oxford, saying: "If there were ever a nice powercut in Banbury I'd be happy!"

Those who missed the stellar light show in England might have to wait a while for the next display.

"The strongest part of the geomagnetic storm has passed and it probably won't be as strong on Monday night, so the main places to see aurora will be in north Scotland," Ms Townsend said.

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