Northern Ireland

Northern Lights could be visible in NI

The Northern Lights Image copyright Derek Heeps
Image caption Stargazers could catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis from Northern Ireland's north coast

Saturday is World Meteorological Day.

Each year the day has a different theme - this year is "the Sun, the Earth and the weather".

By coincidence, the sun has been sending out a flow of solar storm particles.

As a result we are expecting high levels of geomagnetic activity. That means there is a chance that we could catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights.

Scotland is where the Aurora is most likely to be seen, since it is further north.

But it could be spotted over Northern Ireland, especially around the north coast.

Clear, dark skies favourable

The level of geomagnetic storms are measured on a scale called the KP-index, which goes from 0 to 9.

A value of 0 means that there is very little geomagnetic activity and 9 means extreme geomagnetic storming.

The higher the KP, the further south the storm will reach.

Image caption In Northern Ireland, a KP minimum of 5 or 6 is needed to see the Aurora Borealis

In Northern Ireland, there needs to be a KP minimum of 5 or 6 to see the Aurora.

Those levels are predicted from later on Saturday afternoon through until Sunday morning.

Clear, dark skies are most favourable, with little or no light pollution, so getting out of the towns and into the countryside is best for viewing - weather permitting, of course.

The forecast is for a lot of dry weather and just the odd shower.

Variable amounts of cloud will build through the day but should break up after dark so there should be good clearer spells developing.

Winds are light but it will be chilly if you are heading out to have a look.

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