Chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis will increase slightly across northern areas of the UK over the next 48 hours, according to the US Space Weather Prediction Centre.
Recent activity on the surface of the sun, which first happened on 9th October, has led scientists to extend the possibility of seeing the Aurora over parts of Europe, including the UK, Scandinavia and Russia on Thursday 13th and Friday 14th October.
Sometimes changes in the Sun’s activity can cause changes in the associated Kp value; a scale of numbers between 0 and 9, with the number increasing as the aurora strength increases. Kp 0 represents a very weak or no aurora, with Kp 9 corresponding to a major geomagnetic storm with aurora sightings likely across southern Europe.
A map plot for aurora watching shows that it may be possible to witness the display over the northern half of the UK, with the greatest likelihood the further north you are. For the next few days, the northern coastline of Scotland runs through the Kp 5 area, with this value corresponding to the most likely area of aurora extent. However, a Kp value of 7 extends down to northern England, with similar values, over these areas, providing sightings in the past.
Although there are pre-determined values that have identified the Kp number needed over a region for the aurora to be visible, it is not exact. There is also the potential for the Kp value to change as the particles approach the Earth’s atmosphere. So based on the current predictions, it’s worth keeping your eyes on the skies, because you might get lucky.