AS THE skies lit up and shimmered in a rainbow of colour, it was a night to remember.
Stargazers in Scotland have been treated to one of the most dazzling celestial displays in living memory, with photographs taken across the country capturing the Northern Lights in their full glory.
People throughout the UK were left amazed by the grand show of the aurora borealis, the result of the most powerful solar storm to hit Earth in more than a decade.
The best seats for the spectacle late on Tuesday night and into the early hours of yesterday morning were to be found in the north and west of Scotland, where lack of cloud cover and pollution meant onlookers were treated to some of the most striking sights.
Residents on the Isle of Lewis were treated to a display of green, pink and purple as particles collided in the atmosphere.
The display lasted for several hours, much to cheer of amateur and professional photographers hoping to document the natural phenomenon.
Magz Macleod, who took a series of images above Garry Beach in North Tolsta, said: “It was the most spectacular display of aurora I have ever seen. To capture such a moment was beyond my wildest dreams.”
In Britain, the Met Office said there were reports of sightings as far east as Norfolk and as far south as Somerset.
In Llandovery in Wales, landscape photographer Anthony Pease took some remarkable images while he and his newborn son, Harri, looked up at the skies.
He said: “Harri is only four days old. He’s already seen his first aurora and he’s got a solar eclipse coming up on Friday – not bad for his first week.”
“When you see them in the UK, they’re usually very low on the horizon as you’re seeing them from a long way off, taking place in the skies over the northern hemisphere or, sometimes, Scotland.”
Across the world, the show of dancing light was so promiment, it was even visible in swathes of the southern hemisphere.
Nasa astronaut Terry Virts photographed the aurora from the International Space Station. He said he had never seen such a green display before.
The aurora was widely visible across parts of Europe and the US, including the north-west, on Tuesday night. The display is caused by eruptions on the surface of the Sun and recent activity has been unexpectedly strong.
Auroral displays appear in many colours although green and pink are the most common. Shades of red, blue, and violet have also been seen, caused by nitrogen. The greenish-yellow colour is caused by colliding oxygen molecules approximately 60 miles above the Earth.
The latest display came after large explosions on the Sun threw huge amounts of magnetically charged particles out into space, a process known as a coronal mass ejection (CME).
Earlier this week, it triggered a severe geomagnetic storm, prompting forecasters to predict possible sightings. A CME left the Sun on Sunday and arrived at Earth in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Craig Snell, a forecaster with the Met Office, said: “It was the biggest solar flare that has come to earth in the last 19 to 20 years. There were reds and greens which lit up the sky.”
The activity from the sun was so strong that Met Office officials said there was chance the Northern Lights would once again be visible late yesterday evening, with Scotland and Northern Ireland the best locations in the UK.
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