People across the globe travel far and wide to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Although you are more likely to see the lights in Scandinavia, Canada and Iceland, it is possible to see bask in its beauty here in the UK.
What are the Northern Lights?
The Northern Lights (or aurora borealis) are caused by charged solar particles interacting with the Earth’s magnetic fields.
When these solar particles collide with gas particles as it enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it results in a luminous glow that lights up the sky.
While the lights are characteristically known for its beguiling green hue, they can also be blue, yellow or red.
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Northern lights: The lights have been seen across the UK in the past
Where to see the Northern Lights in the UK
The best place in the UK to see the Northern Lights is in Scotland, due to its closer proximity to the North Pole.
With 70 percent of Scotland reserved for remote rural land, a lack of city lights means it boasts the best conditions for viewing the lights.
The best spots in Scotland to take it in are the Scottish Highlands and Scottish Isles, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).
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WWF also lists some other Northern Lights hotspots, including:
- Shetland, Orkney and Caithness
- Aberdeenshire and the Moray Coast
- Lewis, Harris and the most northerly tip of Skye
- The Cairngorms
- Galloway Forest Park
Northern Lights: The lights were seen in Eastdale Island, Scotland
- Rannoch Moor and Perthshire
- Angus and the coast of Fife
- Calton Hill or Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh
Northern England is also listed as a great spot to catch the vivid colours, although reports have suggested the lights have been spotted in southern England too.
The best locations in the north include the Lake District and Northumberland, particularly as the latter is home to some of the darkest skies in England, making it great for star watching.
Meanwhile, in Wales some have reported seeing lights over Brecon Beacons and Anglesey in the past.
For those in Northern Ireland, they also have a great chance of seeing the lights, particularly in the uppermost coastline over the Malin Sea.
One of the most scenic places is the Giant’s Causeway, which offers a panoramic view of the horizon.
While many Britons will have to catch the lights by chance, there is a platform that allows people to discover where they’re likely to see it all.
AuroraWatch, an online resource created by Lancaster University, monitors current levels of geomagnetic activity, and provides alerts on possible aurora sightings across the UK.