Aurora? Has the UK missed it again…

Some of the biggest Coronal Mass Ejections from the Sun since 2006 have been flying towards us for the last few days.

These ejections, caused by the strong twisted magnetic fields inside the Sun throwing hot charged particles out into space, happen all the time – but the Sun gets busier and quieter on an 11 year cycle. The Sun is waking up again.

The BBC News webpage (see the link below) has a video of such ejections taking place.

When the particles from these ejections hit the atmosphere, following the Earth’s magnetic field to the North and South poles,  it makes the gases glow. We call these the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis

It is rare for the Aurorae to be visible from Burton – but the bigger the ejection of particles the further from the poles the aurorae can be seen. Some parts of the country might lucky enough to see the lights, which would look like these pictures, taken by the public, on the BBC News Scotland pages.

Has anyone reading this up in Scotland ever seen the Northern Lights from the mainland?

But pretty lights are not the only effects of CMEs. The charged particles can cause very high currents in the electrical grids, blowing the system. Canada was hit with one in 2003, with electricity grids being damaged in Quebec and satellites getting damaged.

Mr G

Sources: BBC News, BBC News Scotland Gallery