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Keep your eye on the sky as Northern Lights may appear in Ireland

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An aurora borealis similar to this one may be visible tonight

An aurora borealis similar to this one may be visible tonight

An aurora borealis similar to this one may be visible tonight

Budding stargazers have been advised to keep an eye on the skies this weekend, as a phenomenon similar to the Northern Lights may be visible over Ireland, an astronomy expert has said.

Glowing in the sky - an aurora borealis - is mostly known as the Northern Lights.

They are quite often visible over Iceland.

They are created by disturbances in the Earth's magnetosphere caused by a flow of particles from the Sun, and are usually concentrated around the Earth's magnetic poles.

Astronomy Ireland magazine editor David Moore said that there is a "good chance" that the lights will be visible over Ireland.

"There is definitely a good chance, we never know with these things. We're hoping it would be visible," Mr Moore told the Herald.

"Certainly over Donegal, as the horizon looks over the ocean where there are no facing lights, but it's been seen all over the country before, even as far down as Cork."

Dark

Mr Moore explained that a dark sky will be needed to see the lights clearly, but advised the public to keep an eye out tonight.

"We're hoping it'll be extra strong," he said.

"We're advising everyone to be watching the northern horizon, especially if you've got a great dark sky. We haven't had a good one in years so this could be the one."

The southward shift of the lights taking place today is caused by an ejection of plasma, known as a coronal mass ejection (CME) from the Sun, which followed a solar flare on Wednesday.

According to Met Eireann, today is expected to be cloudy during the day.

However, some bright spells are expected to emerge and it will be mainly dry overnight - meaning the lights may be visible.

In the UK, the Met Office's Space account tweeted: "CME forecast to arrive late 23rd March following C5 flare from sunspot AR2736. Active-minor geomagnetic storm periods possible with low risk of moderate storms.

"As a result, aurora may be visible in Scotland where cloud breaks."

Astronomy Ireland is encouraging members to submit any photos of the aurora to the magazine at astronomy.ie.

Earlier this year, stargazers here got to see a total lunar eclipse and a supermoon.

The astronomical phenomena, which happened at the end of January, was the last such event until 2022.


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