Home > Research > Press > Where to see the Northern Lights in the UK: A g...
View graph of relations

Where to see the Northern Lights in the UK: A guide to help you witness this natural spectacle

Press/Media: Newspaper Article

Description

Many people choose to hop on a plane to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in all their glory.

But with a little luck, it’s possible to see them here in the UK.

Just last week, the Aurora Borealis was seen over Alnmouth in Northumberland at the St Cuthbert’s Cross, which is said to be the location where St Cuthbert agreed to become Bishop of Lindisfarne when petitioned by the King.

In previous times, it has also been captured on camera in Saltburn.

But if you have never experienced this natural light display, here’s some tips to help you see it for yourself.

What is the Northern Lights?

Aurora Borealis is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude regions.

It occurs when electrically-charged particles from the Sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This results in an assortment of colours, patterns and lights.

The Northern Lights over Alnmouth on Thursday, March 2, 2017 (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Where can I see them?

The Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Scandinavia, especially Norway, but can be visible in the UK when there are violent solar explosions.

Where in the UK?

In England, you can see the Northern Lights in Northumberland, The Lake District, Oxfordshire and Cornwall.

Elsewhere you can see the spectacle in places such as the Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire, the Isle of Skye, Antrim and the Brecon Beacons.

Northern Lights at Saltburn on New Year's Eve 2015 - submitted by Andrew Dawson (Photo: Andrew Dawson)

How do I know when to look out?

AuroraWatch UK, a free service run by Lancaster University, has an email alerts system which will notify you when aurora may be visible from the UK.

The Met Office also has a Space Weather page where it issues forecasts. You should look out for the ‘Geomagnetic Activity’ forecast - disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field that can result in vibrant auroras.

Each geomagnetic storm has an associated Kp number, which indicates how far south the northern lights may be visible. The higher the Kp number, the further south the northern lights may be seen.

However, it is not possible to accurately forecast when an aurora will be visible from a particular location.

What areas are best?

The Northern Lights are best seen in darkness, away from any light pollution.

As a result, you should head out of your city or town. Experts recommend you find spots with good views of the horizon in the north as that is where the lights will be strongest.

Period6/03/2017

Many people choose to hop on a plane to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in all their glory.

But with a little luck, it’s possible to see them here in the UK.

Just last week, the Aurora Borealis was seen over Alnmouth in Northumberland at the St Cuthbert’s Cross, which is said to be the location where St Cuthbert agreed to become Bishop of Lindisfarne when petitioned by the King.

In previous times, it has also been captured on camera in Saltburn.

But if you have never experienced this natural light display, here’s some tips to help you see it for yourself.

What is the Northern Lights?

Aurora Borealis is a natural light display in the sky, predominantly seen in the high latitude regions.

It occurs when electrically-charged particles from the Sun enter the Earth’s atmosphere. This results in an assortment of colours, patterns and lights.

The Northern Lights over Alnmouth on Thursday, March 2, 2017 (Photo: Owen Humphreys/PA Wire)

Where can I see them?

The Northern Lights are most commonly seen in Scandinavia, especially Norway, but can be visible in the UK when there are violent solar explosions.

Where in the UK?

In England, you can see the Northern Lights in Northumberland, The Lake District, Oxfordshire and Cornwall.

Elsewhere you can see the spectacle in places such as the Scottish Highlands, Aberdeenshire, the Isle of Skye, Antrim and the Brecon Beacons.

Northern Lights at Saltburn on New Year's Eve 2015 - submitted by Andrew Dawson (Photo: Andrew Dawson)

How do I know when to look out?

AuroraWatch UK, a free service run by Lancaster University, has an email alerts system which will notify you when aurora may be visible from the UK.

The Met Office also has a Space Weather page where it issues forecasts. You should look out for the ‘Geomagnetic Activity’ forecast - disturbances in the Earth’s magnetic field that can result in vibrant auroras.

Each geomagnetic storm has an associated Kp number, which indicates how far south the northern lights may be visible. The higher the Kp number, the further south the northern lights may be seen.

However, it is not possible to accurately forecast when an aurora will be visible from a particular location.

What areas are best?

The Northern Lights are best seen in darkness, away from any light pollution.

As a result, you should head out of your city or town. Experts recommend you find spots with good views of the horizon in the north as that is where the lights will be strongest.

Associated organisational unit

References

TitleWhere to see the Northern Lights in the UK: A guide to help you witness this natural spectacle
Degree of recognitionRegional
Media name/outletOnline
Media typeWeb
Duration/Length/SizeGazetteLive
CountryUnited Kingdom
Date6/03/17
Producer/AuthorLaura Love
PersonsNathan Case