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When can we next see the Northern Lights in the UK as solar storm strengthens?

When can we next see the Northern Lights in the UK as solar storm strengthens?


The Northern Lights could return to the UK in the coming weeks after appearing in London and southern England last weekend.

Experts say the sun is approaching its solar maximum, which marks the most active period of its 11-year cycle. This means that the intensification of solar activity is expected to cause explosions that can hit the Earth's magnetic field, making the Northern Lights visible. England once again.

Last weekend, the largest geomagnetic storm since 2003 triggered a G5 alert, the highest warning level for solar storms, issued by the National Weather Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

However, Krista Hammond, a space weather expert at the Met Office, told the BBC that within a few weeks the area would begin to rotate back towards Earth, resulting in the visible Northern Lights.

The sunspot regions that produced all the solar flares and coronal mass ejections are now rotating away from the sun, away from Earth, Hammond said.

But after a few weeks, the area will begin to rotate to face Earth again.

Aurora over Whitley Bay, England, May 10 (Photo: Forsyth/Getty Images) Aurora over Cornwall (Photo: Forsyth/Getty Images)

The Northern Lights became visible last week through at least five coronal mass ejections, eruptions of magnetic fields and solar storms leaving the Sun.

When these arrived on Earth about 18 hours later, they interacted with magnetic fields to create a solar spectacle.

Mr Hammond said a huge sunspot about 15 times the size of Earth appeared on the Earth-facing side of the Sun last weekend.

These hyperactive sunspots produce solar flares and coronal mass ejections, which are massive ejections of charged particles.

The sunspot regions that produced solar flares and coronal mass ejections are now rotated away from the Sun and away from Earth.

The stunning Aurora Borealis, usually only visible in the northern part of the British Isles, occurs when charged particles collide with gases in Earth's atmosphere.

Skygazers have encountered natural phenomena at Whitley Bay on the north-east coast, Essex, Cambridgeshire and Wokingham in Berkshire. (Photo: Ian Forsyth/Getty Images)

Most of these particles are deflected out, but some enter the Earth's magnetic field and are accelerated toward the North and South Poles.

This is why the Northern Lights are most commonly seen near the magnetic pole. However, solar storms are sometimes strong enough to produce auroras further away from the poles, making them visible even in places like the UK.

If these storms are large enough and occur on nights with clear skies, the chances of seeing them in the UK increase, Mr Hammond said.

Since last Saturday, the sun has continued to emit more radiation. A massive solar flare on Tuesday disrupted high-frequency radio communications around the world.

The government's National Risk Register rates extreme space weather at four levels for likelihood and impact. Level 1 is the lowest risk event and Level 5 is the highest risk event.

The register notes that extreme space storms can cause deaths and injuries due to power outages.

According to the register, some areas may require long-term mobile backup power generation, while replacing damaged transformers can take months.




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