Northern Lights dazzle spectators across Scotland, Ireland and south England in ‘unbelievable’ display

The aurora borealis appeared in the sky as far south as Hertfordshire and Cornwall

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The Northern Lights appeared in the night sky across Britain and Ireland on Sunday night reaching as far south as Hertfordshire and Cornwall.

Dozens of spectators shared their sightings across social media, with one sharing a picture from just outside London.

The spectacle is usually most visible near the Earth’s magnetic north and south poles when high-speed electrically charged particles from space collide with gas molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere.

The Met Office forecast clear conditions across the UK for Sunday night (27 February), saying the aurora borealis “may be visible as far south as central England tonight where skies remain clear”.

The national forecaster added that the lights are likely to be seen again on Monday night (27 February).

Dozens of spectators shared their sightings across social media on Sunday, with some reporting seeing the spectacle as far south as Cornwall.

The Met Office shared a series of pictures taken by spectators on the Scottish island of North Uist, the village of Llysfaen on the north coast of Wales, and Cambridgeshire and Shropshire in England.

The forecaster said in a tweet just after midnight: “A coronal hole high speed stream arrived this evening combined with a rather fast coronal mass ejection leading to aurora sightings across the UK.”

One account with the Twitter handle Cornwall Skies shared a photo of what appeared to be an illuminated night sky.

It said: “Looking north tonight in east Cornwall. There are no towns causing light pollution nearby to the north, just Bodmin Moor. We are also a ‘dark sky’ area, I think this could be the aurora northern lights.”

One person posted: “Who needs a trip to Iceland when you can see the northern lights from upper Wensleydale.”

Another posted a picture from just outside London, stating:. “Northern lights in St Albans, Hertfordshire, tonight. Unbelievable.”

One person tweeted photos of the light spectacle from Norfolk. Gary Pearson tweeted: “Well that was certainly one of the best Aurora shows I’ve seen down here in Norfolk. Clearly visible to the naked eye, though it’s the long exp taken by the camera that picks up the vivid colours when this far South.”

Auroras usually occur in a band called the annulus (a ring about 1,865 miles across) centred on the magnetic pole.

The arrival of a coronal mass ejection from the sun can cause the annulus to expand, bringing the aurora to lower latitudes, and it is under these circumstances that the lights can be seen in the UK, according to the Met Office.