A dramatic auroral display blanketed much of the UK last night, visible as far south as Essex, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire. Those lucky enough to see the dramatic apparition reported a dynamic display of red auroral rays with green arcs and patches.
Further north, closer to the Arctic circle where auroral activity is more intense, the night skies hosted higher levels of activity. Here, fast moving displays with many defined structures were described by observers.
Elizabeth-Gyurgyak posted this image of dramatic slanting auroral rays through the cloud on 27 February from Tromso, Norway, on the spaceweather.com aurora gallery
Credit: Elizabeth Gyurgyak/ Spaceweather.com
Further south, green veils shimmered over Edinburgh. This image was taken around 10pm on 27 February by the British Geological Society’s Space Weather section
In Northern Ireland, Martin McKenna captured vivid naked-eye reds, greens and oranges with 80º high rays from the Beaghmore stone circle.
Credit: Martin McKenna/Spaceweather.com
Paul Money witnessed green veils with diffuse red aurora above along the northern horizon from Lincolnshire.
Credit: Paul Money
Will Gater captured this diffuse flow just northeast of Bath in an exposure lasting 20 seconds.
Credit: Will Gater
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, The Sky at Night’s Dr Lucie Green, a solar scientist at Mullard Space Science Laboratory, said: “I think it’s maybe the best event for about 10 years. When we were watching the Sun on the 25 February we saw that a large and fast eruption leapt from the Sun’s atmosphere and the models predicted that we would probably get a glancing blow from this eruption.”
The eruption on 25 February was a coronal mass ejection and an after effect of an X4.9-class solar flare. Travelling the 150 million km between the Earth and the Sun in just two days, the charged particles in the eruption became trapped in Earth’s magnetic field. They were then fired down the magnetic field lines onto the gases in our atmosphere at high speed, smashing into the neutral particles here. Excited by this extra energy, these neutral particles in our atmospheric gases emitted light, creating the auroral display that so many enjoyed last night.