Met Office says solar storm means Northern Lights could be seen over UK tonight

A solar storm on its way to Earth could mean the Northern Lights might be seen from the UK on Saturday night, forecasters have said.

The Met Office said the phenomenon, known as the aurora borealis, may be visible in Scotland.

Skies in Glasgow and Edinburgh are forecast to be cloudy on Saturday night, but there could be breaks long enough to reveal the lights.

Further north, in the Scottish Highlands, or east, in Dundee and Aberdeen, the sky is likely to be clearer.

The Northern Lights 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.

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.

Bonnie Diamond, meteorologist at the Met Office, said: "A Coronal Mass Ejection has happened and the effects of that are expected to arrive later tomorrow evening.

"This type of active geomagnetic storm means that there is the possibility of the aurora borealis, commonly known as the Northern Lights.

"Whether or not you will see the Northern Lights depends on where you are and what the  weather  is like. Scotland is where you're most likely to see it.

"There's a couple of showers on the west coast of Scotland on Saturday evening, and with those showers there will be a bit of cloud.

"However, the clearest skies are further east in Aberdeenshire, where there are plenty of clear skies. Further north, you're pretty likely to see something."

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."

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Tonight (Saturday night):

It will be mostly cloudy and dry in the evening, although there will be a few spots of rain affecting southern counties of England.

There will also be a few clear spells in the north. Through the night, clear spells will develop for central areas while showery rain and wintry showers will affect Scotland.


Tomorrow will be dry with sunny spells for many but there will showers or longer spells of rain in Scotland and Northern Ireland, wintry over hills.

Meanwhile, England and Wales will remain largely dry, or even dry for most places with sunny spells and variable amounts of low cloud. Generally gentle to moderate westerly winds.


The beginning of the week will be dry with sunny spells but there will be more cloud in the north-west. A few showers are possible for north-facing coasts and hills. Generally light north-westerly winds.


Tuesday will be dry with sunny spells for many but it is set to be cloudier further north along with rain in northern Scotland. Gentle winds for many.

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