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Dublin: 11 °C Friday 6 December, 2019

Northern Lights could be seen over Ireland tonight...

…And tomorrow night, if we’re lucky, Astronomy Ireland says. So what do you need to see the aurora borealis? We let you know inside.

The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are seen near the city of Trondheim, Norway Tuesday January 23, 2012
The aurora borealis, or Northern Lights, are seen near the city of Trondheim, Norway Tuesday January 23, 2012
Image: Emil B Borsting/AP/Press Association Images

SEEING THE NORTHERN Lights – or aurora borealis to give them their full name – is a dream for many people.

And now we here in Ireland could be in with the chance of seeing the beautiful coloured lights tonight and tomorrow thanks to a solar storm.

David Moore of Astronomy Ireland explained that a coronal mass ejection (CME) lifted from the sun on February 10, and is due to arrive at Earth between today and tomorrow (February 13 and 14).

A CME causes a geomagnetic storm which can lead to aurorae around Earth’s magnetic poles – these are the Northern Lights.

This means that the Northern Lights may be visible in Ireland, and not just up north, but around the country.

Of course, this does depend on a number of factors. Moore says that ideally you will look for the lights from a dark location where you can see the northern horizon.

There needs to be clear skies and preferably you will be looking away from the city so that its lights don’t interfere with your view.

Moore says the aurora borealis “will appear as an unusual glow”.

Last month, the lights were also visible, resulting in some beautiful photographs taken in Donegal in particular.

Astronomy Ireland received reports of lights being seen all over the country on that occasion and hopes that the next two days will yield more sightings of the famed lights.

It cannot be predicted how strong the aurora will be, and Moore advises to visit Astronomy Ireland to be kept up to date with where people are seeing the glowing phenomenon.

Moore said there will be more aurora sightings this year and into next year, as they are the prime years of the aurora’s 11-year cycle.

Explainer: Can a solar storm cause any damage?>

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