Northern Lights displays ‘best in decades’

The northern lights occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere
The northern lights occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere

The best Northern Lights displays “in decades” could happen this weekend or early next week, according to The Aurora Zone, a Northern Lights holiday specialist.

Displays of the northern lights occur when solar particles enter the Earth’s atmosphere and on impact emit burning gases that produce different coloured lights.

Its prediction follows the eruption of three “X-class flares” from a sunspot since October 19, as reported by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory this week.

“Since Sunday, we’ve seen several small and three huge solar flares emerge from this area of the sun and, if the latest X-class flare is associated with a Coronal Mass Ejection – a powerful eruption of superheated gas or plasma, we could witness some of the best Northern Lights in decades in about two or three days’ time,” said Alistair McLean, the managing director of The Aurora Zone.

The latest strong sunspot, which is said to be “about the size of Jupiter and ten times wider than Earth”, seems to support research suggesting major solar activity takes places during the early declining phase of the solar maximum cycle, the period when the Northern Lights have been historically most frequent, Mr McLean added.

Despite being in the declining phase (which began in June), Doug Biesecke of the US-based NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center recently said there is likely to be a sustained period of heightened lights activity into 2015.

Displays of the lights are notoriously unpredictable and cannot be forecast in advance
Displays of the lights are notoriously unpredictable and cannot be forecast in advance

Earlier this year, parts of Britain got a rare glimpse of the Northern Lights, with displays clearly visible in Glasgow, Orkney and Aberdeenshire in Scotland, at Preston in Lancashire and in Whitley Bay, North Tyneside.

Displays of the lights are notoriously unpredictable and cannot be forecast in advance. In the northern hemisphere, the aurora season runs from late September or early October to late March.

A survey earlier this summer suggested that seeing the Northern Lights was the most popular ‘must-do’ travel experience among Britons.

Source: The Telegraph

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