Northern Lights Visible North-West UK

Northern Lights Visible North-West UK

Earlier this month an amazing display of Northern Lights visible North-West UK could be seen courtesy of a huge solar storm and severe space weather conditions the like of which has not occurred for 30 years! 

This incredible phenomenon also known as the Auroa Borealis can only usually be occasionally seen across Scotland, and Northern parts of the UK. However, a rare occurrence of optimum conditions including the Earths position, magnetic fields and solar winds gave a once in a generation opportunity to view the Northern Lights across the majority of the UK.

The spectacle came after the first severe solar storm warning since 2005 was issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as a series of solar flares combined to form a huge burst of solar plasma.

Krista Hammond, a space weather expert at the Met Office UK said:

“We had a quite enormous sunspot, about 15 times the size of the Earth, on the Earth-facing side of the sun. It was releasing a lot of solar flares and coronal mass ejections which are enormous eruptions of charged particles.”

Can the Northern Lights cause technological risks?

Although an amazing phenomenon to behold the Northern Lights can also pose a downside explains Ian Muirhead, a space systems researcher at the University of Manchester:

“We’re much more technologically dependent now than we were even in the last major storm in 2003. A lot of our services come from space – we don’t even realise – it’s the glue that holds together a lot of our economy.”

The recent Aurora activity saw a range of problems caused for systems reliant on satellites such as GPS issues with John Deere farming equipment, re-routing of flights, and precautions taken with national electricity grids in New Zealand to “prevent damage to equipment”, according to its provider.

Can the Northern Lights pose risk for UK Solar PV Systems?

The risk to UK infrastructure however has been low with The UK National Grid confirming there was no impact on electricity transmission. Any impact on home Solar PV systems would only likely be affected in as far as your local grid for example if the grid was poorly maintained or managed during geomagnetic events as individual systems are not large enough for the induced currents to cause any direct problems.

Reassuringly, the Energy Networks Association, which represents the UK’s electricity network operators, advised it took precautions like ensuring “extra back-up generation to deal with any voltage fluctuations that may occur.”

To find out how E-Verve Energy can help with UK Solar PV Systems click here

Next Chance to see Northern Lights visible North-West UK?

If you missed the Aurora showing earlier this month the good news is the UK could be in for more displays in the coming weeks as the sun reaches the most active period in its 11 year cycle. Whilst predicting an Aurora showing remains notoriously tricky experts remain positive that further showings of this amazing phenomenon look set to grace the UK night skies!

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