Highlands & Islands

Storm Desmond rain affects space weather watchers

Aurora borealis from Derwentwater Image copyright AP
Image caption AuroraWatch UK monitors for the Northern Lights

Systems used for alerting people to the possibility of the Northern Lights have been affected by Storm Desmond.

AuroraWatch UK provides information on the likelihood of the aurora borealis for the UK, including Scotland, one of the best places for viewing it.

The aurora is caused by the interaction of solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun - and Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere.

Heavy rain has affected University of Lancaster-based AuroraWatch.

In a message to its followers, a spokesperson for the space weather organisation said: "Due to Storm Desmond, Lancaster and the surrounding areas are heavily flooded and without power.

"The AuroraWatch systems have been affected by this and so we are not currently showing up-to-date data.

"We will restore service as soon as possible but the power is not forecast to be restored until Tuesday evening. Apologies for any confusion and wishing all in the local area the best."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Storm Desmond has caused flooding

Heavy rain and high winds have caused major flooding and disrupted travel and power supplies for large parts of England and southern Scotland since late last week.

In October, the organisation said it issued more amber alerts for sightings of the aurora so far this year than in 2013 and 2014 combined.

Amber is the organisation's second highest alert to draw the public's attention to opportunities of seeing the Northern Lights.

By October this year 14 were sent out and just two last year and eight in 2013.

At the time, displays were visible from Scotland, Northern Ireland and north England and Wales.

In some places, such as Inverness, the aurora was powerful enough to be visible through thin cloud.

Image copyright Noel Hawkins
Image caption Scotland has seen some spectacular displays of the aurora this year

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites