Has anyone seen the Northern Lights, where's the best place to see, were they good, is there anywhere in UK and was it an expensive trip? birthday treat i hope!
Budlia63 I have seen the Northern Lights and that was from Teesside. ICI had a refinery at what we called North Tees which was on the coast, as night shift engineer going from Billingham to North Tees on a very clear night around two in the morning, some flashes in the sky drew my eye stopping in a light free area I watched the display for around ten minutes and when I got to the refinery all the men were out watching.I saw the display a couple more times always on a very clear night and looking North out over the North Sea and for free. My Daughter and family spent a lot of money going to Norway and never saw the display yet.This year along the North East coast you would have seen the display although only on a couple of nights, it is not continuous from here. Certainly a miracle to watch.
The Space Physics Department at Lancaster University monitors Aurora activity in the UK.There are several ways in which you can find out when the Aurora is visible, and from where. The dates are not predictable in advance. You have to wait until it happens, then grab the opportunity. Full details are here:http://aurorawatch.lancs.ac.uk/alertsThis is their Twitter stream:https://twitter.com/aurorawatchukFrom the Twitter stream you can see that the last alert was on 24th November, code Amber, which means the display would potentially been visible from across Northern England.On 8th October there was a Red alert, meaning that the display would have been visible throughout the UK.
My Pa spent part of WW2 on the Shetlands, and he said he saw the Aurora there several times. He said it was beautiful I've seen it occasonally down here in East Anglia when the conditiions have been right, but it's been pure luck, plus being in places where there's no street lights etc, but nothing like as dramatic as what Pa saw further north.
I saw them last year from Finnish lapland. Any trip to the far North of the world is really expensive, I found. Canada would be cheaper than Scandinavia if it weren't for the cost (and time) of getting there. The magnetic north pole is in Canada, and the lights appear within an oval around it, so that's probably the best place to be. Northern Scandinavia is also good, as is Iceland, if you can catch some clear nights. It is possible to see the lights from the UK, but you'll get much better displays further north. Unlike the UK, from within the Arctic circle you're likely to see something even if geomagnetic activity is low.
March and September are usually the most active months (around the equinoxes), though no-one knows why. It's best to avoid nights with a full moon, as this can wash out faint displays (so check the lunar calendar before you book!), but clouds and light pollution are your worst enemy.
The lights we saw were great, but geomagnetic activity was low so it was a quiet display - more of a linear glow than dancing swirls. Even when the sun is at the height of its 11-yr cycle of activity, you still get quiet periods, and the current solar maximum is being a bit lame compared with the last one. Annoyingly, there was a geomagnetic storm just the week before we went! These storms produce good auroral displays - www.spaceweather.com is a good site for news and predictions. There's a link to a photo gallery, which gives you some idea of what you can see from various places. The Lofoten islands in Norway seem to come up a lot! The Hurtigruten ferry service runs up the coast of Norway, and you can get good discounts on last minute cruises. I know people who have seen the lights while on such a trip, but it's difficult to get good photos of them from a boat!
If you can afford to splash out a bit, I highly recomment the amazing glass igloos at Kakslauttanen in Finland. If you're lucky enough to get an aurora overhead, you can watch it from the warmth and comfort of your own bed!
Hope everyone who wants to see the lights gets to do so, it's a great experience.
The southern most part to see the Northern Lights is northern Fife - certainly I have seen them, sometimes during the day as well - it looks like the rainbow colours you see in an oily puddle. You very very rarely see them south of Aberdeen though. Shetland is a fair bet - it is very far north, further than maps make out - Edinburgh is closer to London than Lerwick.
Wow guys loads of info I'll check out the links and do some sums thanx let me know if anybody else is planning a trip and we can compare notes x
Oh dear having to postpone our plans for northern Lights as just found that our decking is rotten and needs replacing
we have a man in rebuilding it all now!