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Northern Lights appear across the sky

Posted 10 October 2012
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Northern Lights appear across the sky
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People who love to go walking in the north of England or Scotland may have been ending their treks earlier as the days shorten, but a good reason has emerged for extending walks until after dark.

This week has seen some spectacular light shows as the Aurorae Borealis - also known as the Northern Lights - has lit up the sky, with the strange green glow visible on the horizon in parts of the UK due to the sun being near the highpoint of its cycle, which it will reach next year.

The phenomenon arises because the level of electromagnetic energy being emitted by the sun is at its height, with high numbers of ionised particles hitting the Earth'smagnetic field and ensuring the Northern Lights are visible much further south than normal.

It means people going for a walk after dark when it is clear may get the chance to see them on some nights, rather than having to venture up to the arctic.

One picture in the Guardian shows the green shimmering light show reflected in Derwent Water in the Lake District.

Fleeces may be very useful items to buy at this time of year in any case to deal with walking on colder days, but this will be even more true when out walking on a starry night, which will be colder than a cloudy one.

A torch may be a very useful item to have as well, although people will not need to take any unnecessary risks and climb hills or mountains to see Arourae Borealis, as it will be just as visible from valleys.

However, remote spots with little or no light pollution may see the best of the show.

The sun's solar cycle lasts for 11 years and its highpoint is asssociated with major solar flares - along with scare storeis about them disrupting satellites and electronic systems.

Another indication of where the sun is in its cycle is evident when a much more unusual celestial phenomenon takes place, a total solar eclipse.

The corona - a pale white light around the sun only visible during an occultation by the moon - is more prominent at the highpoint of the cycle. ADNFCR-2803-ID-801466472-ADNFCR