Glimpsing the Northern Lights normally requires a trip to the Arctic Circle, shivering by a fjord in the hope of witnessing the often elusive spectacle.
Not this week. On Monday night a beautiful display of Aurora Borealis could be enjoyed in the Lake District, after strong solar activity reached the earth’s atmosphere.
As darkness descended, the lakeland fell of Skiddaw was enveloped in an ethereal green glow which reflected on the water below.
This picture was taken by photographer Paul Kingston, who stopped by Derwent water in Keswick to take this shot using a long exposure.
“It was a clear night and I looked towards Skiddaw and there were glowing lights against the silhouette of the fell,” he said. “It looked as though moving beams of light from the headlights of cars were being projected against the sky. They were white and green, and visible to the naked eye.”
The British Geological Survey (BGS) said the display lasted from 9pm to 4am and was the best they had seen in Britain all year.
“It took us by surprise how long the display lasted and just how clear it was,” said Sarah Reay, an expert in geomagnetism from the BGS based in Edinburgh. “What you need to see the Aurora is clear skies, dark skies and a good view of the northern horizon, which is what we had on Monday,” she added.
She and her colleagues in Scotland knew before darkness fell on Monday that the Northern Lights were likely to have moved far enough south for them to enjoy them in Edinburgh, having monitored a solar storm which was heading their way. But it is more unusual for them to be so clear in England, she said.
Britons living in Scotland and the north of England can expect further sightings of the Lights throughout the year, said Ray, because the sun is not due to reach the peak in its activity cycle – its “solar maximum” – until 2013. But Iceland and Norway needn’t fret about losing tourists who flock there to witness the natural light show, she said. “They needn’t worry. Norway, Iceland , Canada, Alaska – these sorts of places will always be the best places to see the Northern Lights.”