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Northern Lights. What Causes Them?

Northern Lights over Towton Photo: Photo: GRAHAM TELFORD

Did you see the Northern Lights last night?

Some people from our region saw the Aurora Borealis, to give it its scientific name, but it was quite weak this far south and was best viewed well away from local light pollution.

Having said that, GRAHAM TELFORD captured this stunning image of the aurora at Towton, North Yorkshire.

What causes the aurora?

Put simply, a surge of charged particles from the sun - the 'solar wind' - interacts with the earth's magnetic field and excites the gasses in the upper atmosphere and photons, or light particles, are given off. We see this as the beautiful dancing glow of the Northern Lights. It is much the same process that occurs in fluorescent light bulbs.

Are we likely to see it again tonight?

Sadly no. Not this far south anyway. The Solar wind needs to be unusually strong to see the lights over Northern England and the surge soon dies away.

It is still worth popping outside and taking a look though. In fact it's always worth looking up at the sky, day or night, you never know what you might see.

What are the weather prospects for the weekend?

Another early frost is expected Saturday but it will turn out to be a nice day for most; dry with sunny spells.

Not quite so nice Sunday; a lot of cloud with outbreaks of rain, especially later in the day when it will turn windy too.

Have a nice weekend and as always, stay up to date with the forecast which will be brought to you by Kerrie Gosney.

JON MITCHELL