On September 23rd, the upcoming equinox, the chances of witnessing one of the most impressive natural phenomena, the Northern Lights, will increase. According to David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine, although there are no guarantees of seeing this light show, the Earth’s magnetic field conditions and the planet’s tilt angle at this time increase the possibility of seeing the aurora borealis.
The rural northern coast of Ireland is considered one of the best places to observe the lights, as there are no city lights in the distance and the view faces the Atlantic Ocean. Mayo, which also has ocean views, is another good place to see the Northern Lights. However, clear skies are essential to be able to see them from anywhere in the country.
The aurora process begins with solar flares on the sun, releasing billions of tons of radiation into space. These atomic particles reach the Earth’s atmosphere after approximately two days and are drawn towards the north and south poles by the Earth’s magnetic field. When they collide with atoms and molecules in the atmosphere, they generate vibrant colors that characterize the Northern Lights.
The intensity of the lights depends on the activity of the particles, typically forming an oval shape around the North Pole. In rare cases, when there is a significant solar explosion, the ring expands and can reach Ireland. To increase the chances of seeing the aurora, it is crucial to get away from artificial lights. Living in a city will only provide a fleeting glimpse of the major shows, while darker locations in the countryside offer a better view.
Astronomy Ireland offers an aurora alert service that provides daily updates on sky conditions and the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights. It is important to note that the aurora can be seen at any time of the night, with durations ranging from a few hours to the entire night.
Although weather conditions in Ireland often pose challenges, the upcoming years promise to be favorable for witnessing the Northern Lights, as solar activity will peak in 2025. So keep your eyes on the sky and hope for clear nights to experience this impressive natural phenomenon.
– Astronomy Ireland magazine