Will the Northern Lights be visible in the North East on Saturday night?

The Northern Lights over St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay
The Northern Lights over St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay -Credit:Owen Humphreys/PA

The Northern Lights might be visible again in the North East on Saturday after a stunning show on Friday night.

Also known as aurora borealis, the bands of pink and green light were seen across the UK and in parts of Europe on Friday after an "extreme" geomagnetic storm caused them to be more visible, according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). And the lights are likely to be visible again on Saturday, May 11, in northern parts of the UK.

Chris Snell, a meteorologist at the Met Office, said: "It is hard to fully predict what will happen in the Earth's atmosphere, but there will still be enhanced solar activity tonight, so the lights could be visible again in northern parts of the UK, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and the far north of England."

He advised those hoping to see the lights on Saturday to head to an area with low light pollution and to use a good camera, adding: "The best chance you have of seeing the lights is if you are away from street lights and areas with lots of light pollution, as any type of light does have a big effect.

"Also, at this time of year, we are fighting the shorter length of nights, so it is unlikely that they will be visible until around 10.30pm or 11 o'clock when it gets really dark." Sightings in southern parts of the UK are less likely on Saturday, although Mr Snell said the lights might be visible through a strong camera lens.

Simon Partridge, weather forecaster for the Met Office, told ChronicleLive: "There's a good chance the lights will be visible again on Saturday night. It was a very strong aurora for the UK on Friday night and we are expecting to see it again on Saturday, though not quite as strong.

"However there is some low cloud and sea fog hitting the coast so inland might be safer. There is a better chance to see the lights further inland as coastal areas might be cloudier."

The G5 geomagnetic storm, which is considered extreme and the strongest level of solar storm, hit Earth on Thursday. The cause of this storm was a "large, complex" sunspot cluster, 17 times the diameter of the Earth, according to the NOAA.

The last storm with a G5 rating hit Earth more than 20 years ago in October 2003. Aurora displays occur when charged particles collide with gases in the Earth's atmosphere around the magnetic poles.

In the northern hemisphere, most of this activity takes place within a band known as the aurora oval, covering latitudes between 60 and 75 degrees. When activity is strong, this expands to cover a greater area - which explains why displays can be occasionally seen as far south as the UK.