Rare Aurora Borealis over UK gives Northern Lights watchers 'goosebumps'

Natural phenomenon normally limited to areas far closer to the Arctic Circle

People in the UK were treated to a dazzling Aurora Borealis in dark spots across the country on Wednesday night.

The natural phenomenon was visible to the naked eye as far south as Devon due to a particularly strong solar flare.

"This was one of the best I have seen in the UK for years," said photographer Owen Humphreys, who was treated to a stunning display in the sky above Derwentwater in the Lake District.

"The reds and the greens were really vibrant and make up for all the times we go out in the middle of the night and don't see anything."

Aurora-watcher Julie Winn from Hexham, Northumberland, drove an hour into the Scottish Borders to find a dark patch of sky away from light pollution and was delighted with what she saw.

"It was better than I have seen for a long time, clearly visible to the naked eye, with subtle colours of pink and green above."

Miss Winn, a volunteer at Kielder Observatory, said the Aurora Borealis was particularly strong as a large solar flare, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection, was detected last week bursting from the sun.

Particles from the flare interact with the Earth's magnetic field, causing them to energise and create photons of light, she said.

She was unable to say if there would be a repeat performance on Thursday night.

"It might have fizzled out, it could come stronger," she said.

For some, such as Paul Spackman, 54, this was the first time they had been able to see the phenomenon.

The graphic designer, from near Ennerdale in Cumbria, said he had been using apps for five years in an effort to catch a glimpse.

"I use a couple of apps on my phone, which let me know the likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights," he told the PA news agency.

"I've been getting a lot of amber alerts over the last week or so but not had any luck seeing anything.

"Last night when I got a red alert on both apps I popped on my dressing gown and went into the garden and spent some time scanning the sky.

"I was amazed at what I saw ... I've never seen them before but I've always wanted to ever since I was young and was hoping one day to visit Norway to see them."

He said the experience was "hard to put into words" and gave him "goosebumps all over".

Watch: Northern Lights over Norway

Updated: November 4th 2021, 4:16 PM
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