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Astronomer ‘watching carefully’ as ‘slight chance’ Northern Lights to be visible



AN Irish astronomer has told how he will be watching the sky tonight as there’s a “slight chance” the Northern Lights will be visible here.

Days after a strong geomagnetic solar storm hit Earth, the Northern Lights may be visible again across some parts of the globe, but they won’t be as intense as last weekend.


The Northern Lights dazzled Ireland over the weekendCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Some people could get another chance to see the lights again tonight


Some people could get another chance to see the lights again tonightCredit: Rex Features

Irish astronomer David Moore said “a burst of energy occurred this morning at around 7am that was unexpected.”

He told the Irish Sun: “We will watch this carefully in the coming hours. 

“In the past few hours, activity has died away but this is the problem with aurora. 

“They are not easy to predict with certainty. 

“Last Friday’s huge aurora came several hours early for example.

“But we were able to predict it was coming the day before it happened.”

Ireland’s weather may hamper chances with outbreaks of rain and clouds taking over the country in the next few days. 

The UK Met Office said it might be possible to see the solar storm in some areas in Northern Ireland.

The Aurora Borealis were visible across many parts of the country over the weekend after the biggest solar storm in more than two decades.

Brits across the country treated to dazzling views of the Northern Lights because of solar storm

The spectacular phenomenon was due to an “extreme” geomagnetic storm. 

For the solar storm to be seen, the skies must be completely clear, and the best chance of any views is in an area with little to no light pollution.

In the UK, it might be possible to catch another glimpse of the solar storm in the country’s northern parts. 

According to the Met Office space weather department, there remains “a slight chance” of glancing Coronal Mass Ejection impacts overnight on 17 May into 18 May in the Northern Hemisphere.

Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) are large expulsions of plasma from the sun.

“These may bring some limited enhancement to the aurora, with the slight potential of allowing for some visibility as far south as northern Scotland or similar latitudes,” forecasters said.

It comes amid an alert from AuroraWatch UK, which is run by scientists in the Space and Planetary Physics group at Lancaster University’s Department of Physics.

The site produces an hourly index to measure geomagnetic activity.

Its status between 6am and 7am today was “Amber alert: possible aurora” – meaning the phenomenon was “likely” to be visible by eye from Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland. 

US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) data shows that the Northern Lights were more visible during an “extreme” geomagnetic storm. 

They said that the spectacular solar phenomenon might be visible in the northern hemisphere, but the probability of the light being visible is much lower than it has been in recent days, with a possibility of between 0% and 50%. 

A geomagnetic storm lights up the night sky above the Bonneville Salt Flats on May 10 in Wendover, Utah.


A geomagnetic storm lights up the night sky above the Bonneville Salt Flats on May 10 in Wendover, Utah.Credit: Getty Images – Getty
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