Don’t panic: the northern lights won’t be turning off anytime soon

Nathan Case, Lancaster University The northern lights are nature’s very own magnificent light show. They are the mesmerising end result of electrically charged particles from the sun colliding with the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Though more frequently witnessed from the polar regions, the UK and other places on similar latitudes are lucky enough for the aurora…

Possibility for nacreous cloud sightings

Although not related to the aurora, polar stratospheric clouds (also known as nacreous clouds) are a beautiful winter sky phenomenon. They only form when conditions in the stratosphere, a layer of our atmosphere at around 15-25km in altitude, are just right. One very important condition is that the temperature in the stratosphere must be below…

Auroral Photography: How to Maximise Your Chances

Over on the AuroraWatch UK Flickr page, photos of stunning auroral displays are shared with us regularly by some of the UK’s most talented photographers. Although aurora seen from the UK is often considerably weaker and less frequent than more northern countries, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. As many of our followers have discovered, using the…

Daytime alert changes

Eagle-eyed followers may have noticed that we’ve made a change to our alerts. From now on, any alerts issued during “daytime” will look slightly different: Old version: New daytime version: We’ve tweaked the text to avoid any confusion about being able to see the aurora during daylight hours. As you’ll probably know, seeing aurora requires…

Light pollution: an aurora hunter’s foe

There are several things that can really frustrate the avid aurora hunter: dead camera batteries, cloud cover, and that pesky thing called light pollution. Light pollution is the name for the brightening of the night sky due to the presence of man-made sources, e.g. street lamps, high-rise blocks, or gas flaring from nearby petrochemical plants.…

Receive alerts by Telegram messaging service

As a trial we’ve added Telegram to the list of services from which you can receive our alerts. Telegram is a cloud-based messaging service with widespread support for all the major mobile phone platforms and computer operating systems. There are native mobile apps for Android, iPhone (and iPad), and Windows Phone. The messaging program can…

What is airglow?

Beautiful green ‘airglow’ spotted by aurora hunters – but what is it? Nathan Case, Lancaster University Over the past few nights, amateur astronomers and aurora hunters alike have been reporting a green glow across the UK sky. Easily confused with the aurora borealis, or northern lights, the sightings were of another phenomena called “airglow”. Airglow…

The October 25th Aurora Red Alert

On October 25th, the UK received an astonishing early Christmas present. At 17:48 UTC (18:48 BST), AuroraWatch UK issued an extremely rare red alert, indicating that it may have been possible to see the aurora from the entirety of the UK. There were in fact two distinct periods where geomagnetic activity went above red alert thresholds:…

CME drives hidden aurora

Strong geomagnetic activity was recorded during the night of 13-14 October, resulting in an amber alert being sent out to our subscribers. High activity lasted for several hours and nearly reached our threshold for a red alert (falling just short of the required 200nT, maxing out at 190nT). The activity was the result of a…

Round up of UK aurora 25-26 Sept

It’s been a great couple of days for aurora viewing in the UK. In our second aurora round up, we overview the geomagnetic activity that occurred over the last couple of nights (25-26th Sept) in the UK, along with plenty of pictures from our followers and what we think was the cause. AuroraWatch UK alert status On both…