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In pictures: Northern Lights illuminate the UK
28 February 2014
Last updated at 09:00
The Aurora Borealis has been giving rare displays over parts of the UK, from the north of Scotland to as far south as Essex.
The Aurora Borealis - better known as the Northern Lights - has been giving rare and spectacular displays over parts of the UK, from Humbie in the north of Scotland (pictured) to as far south as Essex and Gloucestershire.
The lights have also been clearly visible in places such as Orkney, Cumbria (pictured) Norfolk and south Wales.
The display, which is caused by electrically charged particles from the Sun entering the Earth's atmosphere, led to scenes such as this one at the Stonehaven war memorial, Aberdeenshire.
Mark Thompson, presenter of the BBC's Stargazing Live, said he had not been expecting a display as spectacular as it was in places such as Corbridge in Northumberland.
Mr Thompson said the display, which was also seen in St Andrews, Scotland (pictured) happens when solar wind, or electronically charged particles, are ejected from the Sun. He said: "They take two or three days to get here and when they do get here they cause the gas atoms in the sky to glow. It is as simple as that."
The astronomer said: "Three or four days ago the Sun will have thrown a lot of this stuff out in an event called a Coronal Mass Ejection, and they would have been travelling towards the Earth since. It all depends how active the Sun has been."
Mr Thompson said the particles were usually pulled towards the North Pole but if there were enough of them "they will travel further down towards the equator and cause the lights to go further south", such as here, in Gloucestershire.
"It is just good luck," Mr Thompson said. "The last time I have seen it this spectacular was probably 20 years ago." The lights were seen in many locations across the UK, including Shap in Cumbria.
Many people took photographs of the illuminated skies. This one shows St Mary's Island, Tyne and Wear.
Normally Brits would have to travel to Nordic countries like Finland and Iceland to see the Northern Lights. This image, which shows the Aurora Borealis above Earth, was taken at the International Space Station.
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