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Northern Lights visible from Ireland this week - and tonight's the best time to see them

The lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are expected to be visible from all over the country.

The Northern Lights, the Milky Way and Lyrid meteors falling through the sky at the Bathing House near Howick, Northumberland, in April.
The Northern Lights, the Milky Way and Lyrid meteors falling through the sky at the Bathing House near Howick, Northumberland, in April.
Image: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/PA Images

THE NORTHERN LIGHTS are visible over Ireland this week.

The lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are expected to be visible from all over the country, but people in the north will have the best chance of seeing them.

Tonight is expected to be the best time to view the lights, but they may also be visible later in the week.

The Northern Lights are the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere.

Variations in colour are due to the types of gas particles colliding. The lights can appear as a range of colours such as white, green, blue and pink.

Astronomy Ireland’s David Moore explained that the brighter colours sometimes captured by cameras are often not visible to the naked eye. The lights seen over Ireland this week are most likely to appear white.

Moore told TheJournal.ie the Northern Lights have been “popping and crackling for the last week”.

“We’ve already had pictures in from Mayo, along the north coast near Coleraine. There was actually a strong display we’d have seen on Sunday night were it not for bad weather,” said Moore. 

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Moore explained the appearance of the lights will be “somewhat spoiled” for people in rural areas due to the full moon’s bright light. 

“We don’t know how strong it’s going to be,” said Moore. “We have to calculate the sun’s rotation, the dynamics…so there’s always a chance of a no-show. That said, if it goes to plan…what we’ll be seeing is the lights out over the Atlantic Ocean.”

Moore said current estimates suggest that tonight’s appearance of the northern lights will be “more than just a glow on the northern horizon”.

About the author:

Órla Ryan

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