The skies above Northumberland were lit up by a spectacular light show last night.
It was the best display of the Aurora Borealis, better known as the Northern Lights, for 20 years and could be seen across Northumberland and as far south as Gloucestershire.
The colourful glow was clearly visible along the coast as this picture taken at Druridge Bay by Ralph Brown and the slideshow of pictures by Herald photographer Jane Coltman show. But even inland, the lights could be seen by the naked eye.
The earliest sign of the light show came at about 9pm, when David Steel, head ranger of the Farne Islands, tweeted: “The aurora is showing incredibly well tonight down the east coast – just had report that it’s showing well at Beadnell, Northumberland. If you live in an area without too many street lights, just GET OUT and look up! Northern lights are incredible tonight.
The Northern Lights are usually visible in only the more northern parts of the UK, but a surge in geomagnetic activity last night led to them appearing much further south than usual. The display occurs when explosions on the surface of the Sun hurl huge amounts of charged particles into space, according to the British Geological Survey (BGS).
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. Geomagnetic storms follow an 11-year ‘solar cycle’, and the last ‘solar maximum’ was last year, according to the BGS.
Did you capture a picture or video of the Aurora Borealis? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll publish the best of them on our website and in next week’s paper.