• Mar 09, 2013

Increased chances of Northern Lights over UK on New Year's Eve

The Northern Lights may be visible on New Year's Eve over parts of England, Wales and Scotland as scientists detect increase in geomagnetic space activity.

The Northern Lights could put in a New Year’s Eve appearance over parts of England and Scotland, in a special addition to traditional Hogmanay celebrations.

Forecasters have predicted that the latest wave of solar activity, caused by an ejection of particles from the Sun’s surface on December 28, could result in displays of the aurora borealis over the UK tonight.

Models and predictions released by the Space Weather Prediction Center at the USA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest that the activity could cover Scotland and northern England on New Year's Eve, although predictions about sightings in more specific locations are difficult to make.

They were reported over rural regions of Wales, Yorkshire and Scotland as recently as Christmas week and hopes remain that they will put in an appearance for the end of year celebrations across the country.

AuroraWatch UK, a group within the Physics department at Lancaster University, wrote on Facebook that “there could be increased chances to see aurora from the UK tonight” if geomagnetic activity continues to remain high into the evening.

It advised following its social media channels and signing up for its live alerts system for the latest updates.

Earlier this year, bright displays of the Northern Lights were photographed over Derwentwater, near Keswick in the Lake District, Penmon on Anglesey and Pendle Hill in Lancashire.

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The US Center said there was a 90 per cent chance of the geomagnetic activity, a result of the sun’s ejection of particles meeting the earth’s atmosphere, that causes the green, blue and white lights to appear in the sky.

Jonny Cooper, Aurora tourism expert and owner of Northern Lights travel specialist company Off the Map Travel added: “Experiencing the Northern Lights is very special and what better time for it to reach the UK, than to coincide with welcoming in the new year. You should look north and try to escape any light pollution. Other than that, it’ll be a case of keeping your eyes skyward and keeping your fingers crossed for clear weather.”

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Mr Cooper said there were never any guarantees on seeing the much-hunted displays, but locations further north would have better chances.

The aurora borealis are best seen in rural areas where light pollution levels are low, and in clear conditions when there is little cloud coverage.

However, residents in some parts of the UK may find themselves battling heavy rain and cloud cover, which would likely lessen the chances of seeing the Northern Lights.