Northern Lights could be set to to dazzle parts of Scotland

Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 11:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 14th March 2018, 12:23 pm

Scotland could be set to witness the Northern Lights this evening as a huge solar storm hurtles towards Earth.

The storm, which was caused by an enormous explosion in the sun’s atmosphere last week, could wreak havoc with satellite signals and power sources, NASA have warned.

Charged particles from that flare are now on their way to our planet - and are predicted to hit today.

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Aeroplanes and GPS systems exposed

The arrival of the solar storm coincides with the formation of ‘equinox cracks’ in Earth’s magnetic field, which form around the equinoxes on March 20 and September 23 every year.

These cracks weaken our planet’s natural protection against charged particles, potentially leaving aeroplanes and GPS systems exposed to the storm.

The cracks also mean those looking up to the skies are more likely to catch glimpses of the Northern Lights this week.

To improve your chances of witnessing the light show find an area less affected by light pollution (Photo: Shutterstock)

This may include parts of Scotland and northern England, as well as parts of the north of America.

Charged, magnetic particles from the solar storm can interfere with machinery in Earth’s orbit as well as at the planet’s surface, such as GPS systems and radio signals.

They can also threaten airlines by disturbing Earth’s magnetic field.

Storm 'impressive by recent standards'

A spokesman for NASA said: “The storm is impressive by recent standards, but nowhere near the maximum intensities often generated at the height of the solar cycle."

To improve chances of witnessing the natural firework display, amateur astronomers are recommended to find a dark place away from light pollution. The lights are most likely to be visible between 10pm and 2am - though they could appear at anytime.

Improve your chances further still by finding an area with a large northern outlook - ideally with clear skies.

The farther north you are, the greater chance you have of witnessing the spectacular solar storm, so consider planning a trip north to improve your chances of catching a glimpse of the Aurora.

For accurate updates on the likelihood of a storm visit the British Geological Survey.