Incredible pictures show Northern Lights over Dartmoor

The aurora borealis over Dartmoor Credit: Joe Cartwright

A lucky family managed to spot the Northern Lights over Dartmoor - and took some amazing pictures of the phenomenon.

A red alert for the aurora was issued on Wednesday (17 August), meaning the lights were likely to be visible.

The aurora borealis is rarely seen over the UK but is a common sight over the Arctic, northern Canada and Scandinavia.

Joe Cartwright and his family were getting ready for bed when the alert went off. They decided to go hunting for the lights and took a trip to Coombestone Tor with their cameras.

The pictures were taken from Coombestone Tor Credit: Joe Cartwright

Joe said: "We were getting sorted for bed when my other half said there was a red alert on the aurora watch UK meaning the aurora could be seen over the UK.

“We thought it may be cloudy, but it wasn’t, so we grabbed the cameras, our children and hot chocolate then drove up the road to Dartmoor and stopped at Coombestone Tor to take these pictures."

He added: "We stayed for a while until the cloud cover came over. I think it was due to a recent solar storm."

The aurora borealis is rarely seen over the UK Credit: Joe Cartwright

What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights can be explained as an interaction of the solar wind and the Earth's magnetic field.

Known as the Aurora Borealis, the lights appear in the clear night sky as swirling rivers of greenish-blue light. They move in an unpredictable way and suddenly grow vivid.

What causes the Northern Lights?

The natural light show happens when disturbances on the sun pull on the Earth's magnetic field.

Electromagnetic waves launch electrons at high speeds into the Earth's atmosphere, which creates the aurora.

These storms are short-lived periods of high geomagnetic activity.

How often are the Northern Lights seen over the UK?

In the far north of Scotland, you can usuallt see the aurora every few months, but sightings become a lot rarer as you travel further south.