Aurora borealis lights up the night sky with a spectacular display
Sky watchers were treated to a stunning display as the evening lit up with the spectacular Northern Lights.
The natural phenomenon swept across parts of Scotland and northern England on Tuesday night, while areas as far down as South Wales also caught a glimpse of the ethereal event.
Aurora borealis chasers were able to share their stunning photos on social media, thanks to good weather conditions and dark, clear skies.
According to the Met Office, the luminous streaks could make another appearance on Wednesday.
Met Office spokesman Grahame Madge said: “(The lights) were seen quite widely last night across northern Britain, where the conditions were conducive to the event.
“Sightings in the UK occur when we get excellent conditions for them to be seen.”
The Northern Lights are a result of solar flares – intense bursts of radiation caused by the magnetic energy released by the Sun.
These charged particles enter the Earth’s magnetic shield and collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere resulting in small bursts of light, called photons, which make up the aurora.
Red and green auroras occur when these particles collide with the oxygen molecules in the air, while nitrogen produces the pink and purple colours.
Solar flares coincide with the Sun’s solar cycle, which has peaks and falls that lasts 11 years.
The solar activity is said to be decreasing and heading towards a “solar minimum”, which means although the aurora will always be present, the shows might be gradually less frequent and intense until 2020.
Dr Nathan Case, a space physicist at Lancaster University and an AuroraWatch UK team member, said: “Last night’s aurora was driven by fast solar wind coming from a coronal hole.
“The solar wind is a plasma, or electrically charged gas, that constantly blows out from the Sun.”
South Wales, Scotland and the north of England are the regions most likely to encounter the aurora in the coming days, and Dr Case says those wanting to catch the phenomenon should keep an eye out for alerts online.
“Aurorawatch UK issues alerts of when aurora activity is high. To see the aurora, one needs dark, clear skies with a good view of the northern horizon.”