Friday 19 April 2019

'Good chance' Northern Lights phenomenon could be visible over Ireland this weekend

The Northern Lights over Kirkjufell
The Northern Lights over Kirkjufell
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

BUDDING stargazers have been advised to keep an eye on the skies this weekend as a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights may be visible over Ireland, am astronomy expert has said.

The glowing in the sky, known as an aurora borealis, are mostly known as the Northern Lights and are quite often visible over Iceland.

They are created by disturbances in Earth's magnetosphere caused by a flow of particles from the Sun, and are usually concentrated around the Earth's magnetic poles.

Editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, David Moore, said that there is a "good chance" that the lights will be visible over Ireland.

"There is definitely a good chance, we never know with these things. We're hoping it would be visible," Mr Moore told Independent.ie.

"Certainly over Donegal as the horizon looks over the ocean where are there no facing lights, but it's been seen all over the country before, even as far down as Cork."

Mr Moore explained that a dark sky will be needed to see the lights clearly, but advised the public to keep an eye out on Saturday night.

"We're hoping it'll be extra strong. We're advising everyone to be watching the northern horizon, especially if you’ve got a great dark sky.

"We haven't a good one in years so this could be the one."

The southward shift of the lights on Saturday is caused by an ejection of plasma, known as a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME) from the Sun, which followed a solar flare on Wednesday.

According to Met Eireann, tonight will see clear skies, but Saturday is expected to be cloudy during the day.

However, some bright spells are expected to emerge and it will be mainly dry overnight - meaning the lights may be visible.

In the UK, The Met Office's Space account tweeted: "CME forecast to arrive late 23rd March following C5 flare from sunspot AR2736. Active-minor geomagnetic storm periods possible with low risk of moderate storms.

"As a result, aurora may be visible in Scotland where cloud breaks. Latest forecast available."

  • Astronomy Ireland are encouraging members to submit any photos of the aurora to magazine@astronomy.ie

With additional reporting from Press Association

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