UK residents were treated to a beautiful sight when the Aurora Borealis, which is normally visible in higher latitudes, showed up in the skies above certain parts of the region.
The Aurora Borealis, more popularly known as the Northern Lights, is a natural light show produced in the upper atmosphere of the Earth. These beautiful displays of light are usually only visible in the Arctic regions. However, UK residents as far south as Jersey were able to catch a glimpse of the stunning light show.
The term Aurora Borealis was coined by the Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei back in 1619 after the Roman goddess of morning Aurora. Auroras occur due to the collision of charged particles from the sun with the planet's thermosphere. While it is highly probable that prehistoric man marveled at the beauty of these lights, the first known recorded mention of the Northern Lights was made in China back in 2600 B.C by Fu-Pao.
The first scientific observations of the Northern Lights were taken by Henry Cavendish in 1790. Using triangulation, Cavendish was able to determine that the Aurora Borealis occurred approximately 60 miles above the Earth's surface. Neon lights often found in certain shops and establishments also work using the same principles that produce auroras.
While countries like Sweden and Norway often experience Aurora Borealis sightings, the Northern Lights are also visible in the UK a few days per year. However, the Aurora Borealis sightings on Feb 27. was notable for being particularly bright, and people in locations such as South Wales, Scotland and Norfolk were able to enjoy an uncommonly bright light show. Experts say that this is the most stunning appearance of the Northern Lights in the UK for the past few decades.
When the solar particles responsible for creating an aurora start nearing the Earth, they are normally drawn towards the North and South Poles of the planet. However, uncommonly large amounts of charged solar particles hitting the upper atmosphere of the Earth in a single night can cause the visual effects to extend to the relatively lower latitudes.
The light show over the UK lasted for about an hour. However, the people who were able to catch a glimpse of the rare sight were able to enjoy a brilliant, sinuous display of green and red lights. Many professional and amateur photographers and videographers across the region came out to capture the unusually bright Northern Lights, flooding the Internet with numerous photos and videos of the rare event.