Chance of seeing the Northern Lights over next few nights?

A 'chance' of catching sight of the Northern Lights Thursday and Friday night Photo: (Image: Met Office)

As a result of a large coronal mass ejection from the sun at 18:30 on 7th January there is a higher chance than usual of seeing the Northern Lights across the UK on both Thursday and Friday night.

The Northern Lights (or Aurora Borealis to give it it's official name) occur when huge amounts of charged particles explode from the sun and react with the Earths magnetic field.

As the charged particles collide with gas molecules in our planet's upper atmosphere, the energy this gives off is then seen as a wonderful visual display of most commonly green and pink light in the night sky.

A large solar flare from the sun on the 7th January caused a 'Coronal Mass Ejection' of charged particles to head towards Earth
A large solar flare from the sun on the 7th January caused a 'Coronal Mass Ejection' of charged particles to head towards Earth Credit: NASA/ESA

In the UK, the best chance of seeing the aurora will be in Scotland, the far north of England and Northern Ireland.

This is because the 'lights' are naturally drawn to the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, so the further north in the UK you are the better chance of catching sight of them.

Conditions for optimal aurora viewing include a dark cloud-free sky, lack of light pollution from urban areas, and a clear line of sight towards the northern horizon.

Weather conditions over the next few nights are not perfect but favourable. Many parts of the region will be dry with clear spells. So there's a 'chance' in the north-west of viewing this optical phenomenon...if you're lucky!