The Northern Lights could be visible in parts of the UK on Monday and Tuesday as a solar storm is expected to hit Earth.
The lights are expected to be visible across much of Scotland, far north of England and Northern Ireland, however cloudy weather is likely to hinder sightings for most, the Met Office said.
It is caused by a coronal mass ejection, a massive eruption of material from the sun that can cause a phenomenon known as a geomagnetic storm that disrupts the Earth’s magnetic field.
The storm has been rated G2 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an American science and regulatory agency, which means it is of moderate strength.
Tom Kerss, astronomer and author of Northern Lights: The Definitive Guide to Northern Lights, said the storm is unlikely to cause disruption in the UK due to the rapid weather forecast and electrical engineering.
“We wouldn’t expect a power failure or transformers to explode or anything in a storm of this magnitude, but it’s possible that solar superstorms like one that occurred about 150 years ago could cause widespread disruption – we’re just so lucky it hasn’t happened yet, ”he said.
Aurora is also expected to be visible as far as New York, Wisconsin, and Washington State, and according to the US Space Weather Prediction Center, the event could cause power grid fluctuations as well as spacecraft “misalignment”.
Despite the possibility of clouds, Mr. Kerss urged people to look for the lights.
He said, “Unfortunately, I think cloud cover will be a bit of a problem for Scotland tonight, but that doesn’t mean if you have clear patches you shouldn’t try.
“It probably has pockets of enhanced energy so that it can step up its performance from time to time, and that means it is entirely possible that the Northern Lights could actually extend into the north of England and perhaps as far south as Belfast or Omagh – not very far south, but they could be seen over the sea by anyone looking north over the north of England. “