Scientists from the Space Weather prediction Centre (SWPC) have today announced that a G3 storm (classified as a strong geomagnetic storm) is heading towards Earth and is predicted to be strong enough to produce northern lights displays that could be visible as far south as the Midlands, even Southern England.
The official space weather prediction service, has predicted that this geomagnetic activity will reach Earth on January 9th and 10th, saying: “The source of this disturbance is a fairly fast Earth-directed coronal mass ejection (CME) on January 7.
“Full evaluation and modelling of this event has refined the forecast and indicates a fairly direct interaction with Earth, with the WSA-Enlil model putting arrival mid-morning UTC (GMT) on January 9th.”
With solar activity connected to the Northern Lights displays measured by the KP Index, scientists predict that the solar storm heading this way will rise from a reading of one at 9am on the 8th January, to a massive seven at 9am on Thursday 9th January, maintaining a strong presence of around five to six throughout the day and evening before dropping back down the scale at the same time the following morning of Friday 10th.
Solar activity reaching seven on the KP Index provide perfect solar conditions for the northern lights to be seen in England.
Jonny Cooper, managing director of Off the Map Travel, a soft adventure travel company that specialises in the northern lights, said: “It’s not often that a geomagnetic activity of this magnitude reaches Earth, testament to the fact that we are in one of the most active periods of northern lights activity in the last 11 years.”
With northern lights displays more common closer to the Arctic Circle, this could be a great opportunity to experience the lights a little closer to home. Jonny continues: “As well as the solar activity, we’ll also need clear dark skies to appreciate the auroral lights. You are never guaranteed to see them, but to give yourself the best chance get away from any light pollution on Thursday night and check the weather forecast for breaks in the cloud as far north as you can get.”
If you are inspired to see more, or are unable to get a glimpse of the lights over the next few days, you can always travel to areas that give you a better chance. Jonny concludes: “The solar maximum has already thrown up some incredible northern lights displays in destinations such as Bjorkliden in Northern Sweden, one of the best places in the world to see the lights.”