Northern Lights could be visible in England again tonight - how to get phone alerts

The aurora borealis, or northern lights, puts on a spectacular display over the Weaver Hills, Staffordshire. -Credit:Rod Kirkpatrick/RKP Photography
The aurora borealis, or northern lights, puts on a spectacular display over the Weaver Hills, Staffordshire. -Credit:Rod Kirkpatrick/RKP Photography

Stargazers across England are on high alert for another potential Northern Lights spectacle tonight (Sunday, May 12), following a weekend where the skies were already graced with the aurora's glow. Many enthusiasts stayed up last night (May 11), with some venturing to picturesque spots or designated viewing areas in hopes of witnessing the best possible display.

Although Friday night's show proved more dazzling, there's renewed optimism for another treat.

A fresh geomagnetic storm has erupted, raising the possibility of the UK being treated to a third consecutive evening of the Northern Lights, complete with its mesmerising green and pink hues. Channel 4's weather presenter Liam Dutton shared on X, "**LATEST NOAA SPACE PREDICTION** Further coronal mass ejections (CMEs) expected to arrive on Sunday. This means another strong or extreme geomagnetic storm is likely.

"Therefore, there may be another UK-wide showing of the aurora borealis on Sunday night - cloud permitting."

He added: "Geomagnetic activity will increase again today, however, as with last night, peak activity may not coincide with darkness. There'll also be much more cloud around tonight, with clear spells limited. So, the chances of spotting the will be reduced somewhat.", reports MyLondon.

Sunday morning (May 12) saw the issue of a yellow alert by scientist group AuroraWatch UK, indicating potential visibility of the ethereal Northern Lights. The awe-inspiring aurora borealis may be observable with the naked eye in certain regions, and detectable with camera equipment more broadly.

These predictions followed the Met Office's verification of an unusual severe geomagnetic storm warning for this weekend - the first such warning to be given in almost two decades.

Thursday saw the earth being struck by a G5 categorised significant geomagnetic storm, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Such "extreme" storms bear the highest level classification amongst solar storm.

This particular storm was triggered by a "large, complex" sunspot cluster boasting an expanse 17 times that of our planet.

With the last G5 ranking storm having impacted the Earth over two decades ago in October 2003, causing power outages in Sweden, these events are not frequent occurrences. In an 11-year cycle, the sun's poles invert leading to bursts of solar activity which give rise to northern lights spectacles, with scientists forecasting the next solar maximum to happen by the end of 2024.

How to get alerts to your phone so you don't miss the Northern Lights

Friday's Northern Lights display was especially intense. But many were left frustrated because they didn't find out it was happening in time and missed the chance of a lifetime.

Afterwards, people said it was a 'bucket list' event - showing the importance of seeing the natural phenomenon. There is a way of making sure you don't miss it in future - and that's by downloading a free app on your phone.

AuroraWatch UK is a free service offering alerts of when the aurora might be visible from the UK. It is run by scientists in the Space and Planetary Physics group at Lancaster University's Department of Physics.

You can find it in your phone's App store called AuroraWatch UK Aurora Alerts. If you download it, you will get a message on your phone when there is activity likely to lead to the Northern Lights. On Saturday a red alert was sent out, which you can see in the picture above.