Page 1 of 1

Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 3:20 pm
by _ad
Hi,

Someone on uk.sci.astronomy (Ft_qo.32060$Fr2.6506@newsfe11.ams2) mentioned that the Northern Lights may be visible over the next few days. Does anyone have any advice on the best times to look out for them, and where in the sky to look (other than north :-P)?

RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:10 pm
by brianb
Not very likely, the Sun is quiet & has been for a few days.

For some reason September/October & March are the most likely seasons but the Sun has to do "something interesting" to force the auroral oval far enough south to be visible from the UK. You need a good dark site, no haze or high cloud and a clear N/NW horizon is useful as there are more displays low in the N/NW than elsewhere - though a great display can fill the sky.


RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:13 am
by lancashire astroguy

[quote]ORIGINAL: brianb

For some reason September/October & March are the most likely seasons

[/quote]

Could it be the angle between the Earth's magnetic axis and the solar wind direction at these times of year? I've sometimes wondered whether the magnetic poles themselves would be a very bad place to view Aurora from? Most "whole Earth" pictures I've seen of the Aurora seem to show enormous loops circling around the magnetic poles with a distance of 100's (if not 1000's) of km from the poles themselves.

Jame

RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:53 am
by brianb
[quote]I've sometimes wondered whether the magnetic poles themselves would be a very bad place to view Aurora from? Most "whole Earth" pictures I've seen of the Aurora seem to show enormous loops circling around the magnetic poles with a distance of 100's (if not 1000's) of km from the poles themselves. [/quote]
This is true but I have it on good authority that the auroral displays at Scott Base, McMurdo Sound, Antarctica are frequent and bright even though the magnetic pole is not far away (a magnetic compass is almost useless because the needle wants to point straight down).


RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:43 pm
by philip pugh

[quote]ORIGINAL: lancashire astroguy


[quote]ORIGINAL: brianb

For some reason September/October & March are the most likely seasons

[/quote]

Could it be the angle between the Earth's magnetic axis and the solar wind direction at these times of year? I've sometimes wondered whether the magnetic poles themselves would be a very bad place to view Aurora from? Most "whole Earth" pictures I've seen of the Aurora seem to show enormous loops circling around the magnetic poles with a distance of 100's (if not 1000's) of km from the poles themselves.

Jame
[/quote]

I've heard that explanation about the solar equator, too, but Brian is right that the Sun has been very quiet over the last few days. I've only seen them in 2003, before we had a digital camera, of course.

You may find this clip rather interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYq3g_zhbTo&NR=1&feature=fvwp

RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Sun Oct 17, 2010 1:33 pm
by Specman
Hi,
I saw them, Tuesday / Wednesday last week, but it was above a cloud base so wasn't very spectacular. Interesting watching the clouds changing colour though. Its a regular occurance up here (ORKNEY) though living next to the sea clear skies can be a rarety. Winter is the best time for sure. it would have been a great night last night, near perfect conditions but the moon at 60% illumination washed out the sky.

Clear Skies
Mark

RE: Viewing the Northern Lights from the UK

PostPosted: Mon Oct 18, 2010 1:10 pm
by philip pugh
Could be a small chance in the next few days because the Sun's getting active again.

I was in Texas last week and the haze was so frustrating.