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rare occurrence

Keep watch - the Northern Lights could be on display in Ireland's skies this weekend

That’s according to Astronomy Ireland.

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IF THE WEATHER stays calm, the people of Ireland could get a rare chance to witness the Northern Lights this weekend.

While the Northern Lights are usually only visible from the north pole, the biggest explosion from the sun in a decade means the display will be visible across the world, according to Astronomy Ireland.

David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland explained what the Northern Lights are:

They are a cloud of radiation that come from explosions on the sun. Billions of tons of sub-atomic particles are hurled out into space by these huge explosions.

“When they hit the earth, our magnetic poles can channel them into the north and south poles. This happens almost every night in the polar regions,” Moore told

The Northern Lights are a rare sight for Ireland, with just 1% of displays visible here.

“In Ireland, you’re looking at three or four [displays] a year, but if you factor in the weather, mostly cloudy in Ireland, you’re lucky to see them once a year.”

Why is it happening now? 

Moore said that astronomers are unsure why such a large explosion has occurred, as the sun is currently at one of its lowest points of activity.

“We don’t really know [why it's happening], it shouldn’t really be happeing. The sun goes through cycles of activity every 11 years and we’re actually getting close to the lowest point of activity now,” he said.

“It shouldn’t really be happening but it’s just the unpredictable nature of these things.”

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Moore said that the display wasn’t expected to hit Ireland until tonight, but it actually began last night.

“It started this morning just after midnight. Unfortunately, it was raining in Dublin, I was watching out until dawn at 5am but I saw nothing but clouds and rain,” he said.

We didn’t expect it until tonight but it came last night. It was very violent and came a lot quicker than expected.

If clouds stay at bay, the display will be visible until Sunday night across the country.

Where’s the best place to view the lights this weekend? 

It’s usually easiest to see the Northern Lights in rural locations across Ireland, according to Moore.

However, the moon has had an impact on that.

“The full moon at the moment really brightens up the countryside almost as much as towns and cities, so really [the display] is going to be slightly spoiled by the moonlight,” Moore said.

“People in cities will get the same view as people in rural Ireland.”

You can keep up to date with the Irish display of the Northern Lights this weekend on Astronomy Ireland’s Facebook and Twitter pages. 

Read: ‘Sitting is the new smoking’: Health experts warn that Irish adults are not active enough

More: Ian Paisley Jr to refer himself to Westminster standards office after newspaper article

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