Northern Lights caught on camera

Published Friday, 28 February 2014
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Spectacular photographs of the Aurora Borealis, known as the Northern Lights, have been captured over parts of Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Northern Lights caught on camera
The lights as seen in Dongeal. (© Gerard O'Kane.)

The astronomical phenomenon is more commonly seen in the Arctic circle, but the rare treat became visible across the UK and Ireland on Thursday night.

Amazing green and red light displays were clearly visible in the sky as far south as Essex in England and as far north as Glasgow in Scotland, due to a strong magnetic storm.

Gerard O'Kane from Donegal Photographic Tours shared pictures of his 10-year-old daughter Caitlin McEleney-O'Kane enjoying the views at Inishowen.

Meanwhile, Stephen Wallace from Hibernia Landscapes captured the Aurora over the Elephant Rock at Ballintoy in Co Antrim.

Thousands of sky-watchers took to Twitter to show off their snaps.

Alex Green, who works for the National Trust in Norfolk, said: "Wow, a life tick! Northern Lights over the north Norfolk Coast and visible with the naked eye! Just amazing!"

Usually only northern parts of the UK get a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, however a surge in geomagnetic activity led to them appearing much further south.

According to the British Geological Survey, the display occurs when explosions on the surface of the Sun hurl huge amounts of charged particles into space.

Those thrown towards Earth are captured by its magnetic field and guided towards the geomagnetic polar regions. Charged particles collide with gas molecules in the atmosphere, and the subsequent energy is given off as light.

The BGS added that geomagnetic storms follow an 11-year solar cycle, and the last solar maximum was last year.

"Last night, the Aurora Borealis was around three hours long, but it could be as little as a few minutes," Professor Mike Kosch, from the University of Lancaster, said.

© UTV News
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