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How to see the Northern Lights in the UK!

Being able to see this magical natural light display is something that comes top of a lot of people’s bucket lists. That said, it is usually thought that you need to head to far flung countries in order to get the best view of the Aurora Borealis.

Northern Lights Llangoed Anglesey Wales
Northern Lights Llangoed Anglesey Wales by Kris Williams - jixxer - Flickr

We may have some exciting news for you. If you are keen to see the Northern Lights, but not sure you can afford to get on a flight, you may be able to see them from our very own humble shores.

That’s right. During 2017 it is thought that there may be the opportunity to see this all natural performance. But where? How? What is the best way to maximise your chances of seeing them?

Let us guide you through it all!

 

Isle of Lewis Scotland Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Isle of Lewis Scotland by Colin Cameron

The Isles of Scotland

The upper most part of Scotland is the most common place to find the Northern Lights. The Isle of Skye, Lewis and Harris and the Orkney Islands are popular destinations for Northern Light seekers.

The reason that your chances are great in this particular area is thanks to the vast expanses of water and lack of light pollution. The ideal circumstances to be able to catch a glimpse of the night sky lit up like a rainbow.


 

Northern Lights Midmar Aberdeenshire

Northern Lights Midmar Aberdeenshireby black_friction – Flickr

The Highlands

If you want to stay on the mainland then The Highlands of Scotland can also give you the green, pink and white shades in the sky. Again, this is due to the lack of light pollution that is seen in this area. Not to mention the fact that Northern Scotland has the same latitude as Norway and some parts of Alaska. Both of which are known to give you prime viewing spots.

Aberdeenshire, Moray Coast, Galloway Forest Park and the Cairngorm Mountains are ideal places to head to for your very own light show!

 

Northern Lights across the sea in Ardmalin Donegal Ireland

Northern Lights across the sea in Ardmalin Donegal Ireland by Greg Clarke – leppre – Flickr

Northern Ireland

Ever wanted to see the Giant’s Causeway up close and personal? Why not combine this with the opportunity to see the Northern Lights too? This takes these amazing ancient rocks and completely bathes them in spectacular solar lights.

As the coast of Antrim boasts a northerly horizon, it is the ideal backdrop for you to see the Northern lights. When you add in to the breath taking natural beauty of the area; you will have some stunning photographs to treasure forever.

 

Wales

Over the last few years there have been glimpses of the Northern Lights above the Brecon Beacons. This means that it has increased in popularity. It isn’t the most common place to see the lights. Although, if there is an astronomical event occurring, this increases your chances considerably. So if you are close by to this particular area, it may be worthwhile keeping an eye out for any events in the pipeline.

 

Northern Lights Derwentwater UK

Northern Lights Derwentwater UK

The Lake District

During 2016 the Lake District boasted some of their very own sightings of the Northern Lights. The best sightings were found in Derwent Water which is near Keswick. This is not a new occurrence, in fact, it is thought that the vast expanses of water in the area are responsible. Not to mention beautiful pictures with the lights reflected on the water.

 

The South-West of England

It may not be the most common place to see the Northern Lights. But for those that live in the South-West, you may just get lucky. Oxfordshire is thought to have been lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the purple and gold shades in the sky. Further down, Exmoor National Park is known to occasionally see some of the colours and the area close to St Agnes too.

 

Northern Lights Lindisfarne Holy Island UK

Northern Lights Lindisfarne Holy Island UK by Kris Williams – jixxer – Flickr

Northumberland

Another fantastic place to see the Northern Lights in England has to be Northumberland. During September 2016, sightings were reported in Berwick-on-Tweed and in March 2016 they were also seen in the Kielder Water and Forest Park. This is thanks to the fact that Northumberland has the darkest skies in England. Perfect if you are not only interested in the Northern Lights, but you are also looking for the chance to see the Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy, all without the need for a telescope!

 

Our top tips for maximising your chances

So, now you know that you can see the Northern Lights in your very own country, you may be tempted to take a little trip and see what you can find.
To help increase your chances of being able to see them, we have put together some of our top tips.

 

Know what you are looking for

You don’t need to be an expert in order to find the Northern Lights. That said, it does help if you know what you are looking for. The Aurorae is caused by magnetic fields and how solar winds interact with them. Essentially, they are collisions of particles in the night sky, causing a bright variety of colours to stream across the night sky.

 

Be updated

There are websites out there that are dedicated to updating on sightings of the Northern Lights throughout the UK. They are updated in real time and will give an insight into the geomagnetic activity, and where you are most likely to catch a glimpse of your goal!

 

Northern Lights Scotland

Northern Lights in Scotland by Colin Cameron

 

Stay away from the light

In order to see the Northern Lights, you will need to be looking at the Northern Horizon. Not only this, but you should try to stay as far away as possible from any light pollution. This means that darker places are best.

You should even try to remove your smartphone or torches too, as even these smaller lights can interfere with your chances.
The best tip that we can give you is to remain patient. It can take a while for the Northern Lights to make an appearance. So, get comfy, keep warm and be prepared to wait around for what could be the most breath-taking show that you can see in your life.

 

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The ice from the Jokulsarlon lagoon is deposited on the coastline in close proximity to the lagoon. The ice from the Jokulsarlon lagoon is deposited on the coastline in close proximity to the lagoon.

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