Will the Northern Lights be visible in the UK again?

Following spectacular displays earlier in May, the Northern Lights could reappear once again over our skies this week.

This photo taken on May 11, 2024 shows the northern lights over a suburb in London, Britain. (Photo by Stephen Chung/Xinhua via Getty Images)
The Northern Lights were visible over the outskirts of London in the early hours of 11 May. (Getty Images)

The Northern Lights could once again sparkle in the sky over the UK as early as tonight, according to the Met Office.

A spectacular display lit up the skies over the UK last week, with purple and green light displays twinkling over areas as far south as Yorkshire and even Essex.

This week, another eruption on the sun’s surface may make the Northern Lights visible again, although they are not likely to be as spectacular or as widespread as they were the weekend before last.

On Monday, the Met Office said "there's a chance of some aurora visibility" in the far north of the UK tonight, although viewing potential will be "largely restricted to Scotland and Northern Ireland".

The Met Office says that Monday night's Northern Lights are most likely to be visible from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

"Chances of enhanced aurora activity is expected to decline after tonight," the forecasting body said, although this is being continually assessed by the Met Office Space Weather Operations Centre.

However, there may still be another chance for Britons to catch a glimpse, which the Met Office says is down to recent aurora activity driven by the Sun. It previously said that 2024 was expected to be a peak year for the solar cycle – the natural rhythm of the Sun's activity.

"With solar maximum likely in the coming months, further aurora sightings remain possible for the UK," the Met Office added.

The best time and place to view the Northern Lights are in areas away from light pollution (ie outside of urban areas) and facing north.

The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights, above Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park, Edinburgh. Picture date: Friday May 10, 2024. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
The Northern Lights above Arthur's Seat and Salisbury Crags in Edinburgh. (Getty Images)

North-facing coasts produce some of the best locations to view the northern lights. The Met Office says that the best time to view is when the sky is completely dark and clear of any clouds.

Your mobile phone's camera is probably able to "see" the northern lights far better than you - so even if they are faint for you, you might capture spectacular shots, especially using 'night mode'.

Modern mobile phone cameras have excellent low-light sensitivity (due to demand for photos in bars and clubs).

On iPhone, Night Mode should activate automatically in low-light conditions (you'll see a yellow icon on screen).

This means the camera will take several shots, and put the 'best bits' together into one photo - often producing a northern lights image better than anything seen by the naked eye.

Many spotters shared their camera snaps on X, formerly Twitter, after last week's display.

The skies over the UK were lit up in a brilliant pink and green from the Northern Lights on the night of Friday 10 May thanks to a violent solar storm.

Northern lights were visible in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and even southern England.

America's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued its first severe solar storm warning since 2005 as the storm blasted towards Earth, sparking fears it could interfere with satellites or the power grid.

Coronal mass ejections, or CMEs, are large clouds of solar plasma and magnetic fields released into space after a solar eruption.

Stretching over millions of miles, they can cause northern lights when they hit Earth’s atmosphere.