Storm raises chance of aurora borealis over Scotland

Image source, Karen Munro
Image caption,
Karen Munro took this photograph of the aurora borealis late on Tuesday night

The chances of seeing the aurora borealis over Scotland during the next few nights are good, according to space weather forecasters.

Activity on the Sun is expected to cause a geomagnetic storm, increasing the likelihood of the Northern Lights, the British Geological Survey said.

Stargazers have already seen the aurora from northern Scotland this week.

Karen Munro was among amateur astronomers to see it over Caithness at about 23:30 on Tuesday.

She and fellow members of Caithness Astronomy Group captured images of the "lights" from the Achavanich standing stones.

BGS space weather forecasters said a fast coronal mass ejection (CME) was observed leaving the Sun on Tuesday.

Magnetic field

The CME was associated with a "moderately strong" solar flare that appears to be heading for Earth.

BGS said: "The arrival at Earth is most likely to be sometime on 9 January.

"This CME is expected to cause a geomagnetic storm, increasing the chance of viewing the aurora borealis, or australis if you live in the southern hemisphere, for the next few nights, depending where you are in the world when the storm starts.

"In the UK the best chance of seeing the aurora will be in Scotland, and the far north of England and Northern Ireland.

"If the CME couples strongly to the Earth's magnetic field the aurora may be visible further south."

BGS said the displays were most likely to be seen on Thursday and Friday nights.

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