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Northern Lights Activity is Sky-High, With More to Come

Every glimmer of the magical, beautiful aurora borealis begins as a spot on the sun’s surface. And if increased solar activity is any indication, the next eighteen months will be filled with colourful displays.

Man watching the Northern Lights

Sunspot observations, a key indicator of the likelihood of northern lights, have increased dramatically since the end of 2022, surpassing recent forecasts and in some cases increasing the area the phenomenon is visible from. Scientists say that if the trend continues, the next year and a half will showcase the strongest northern lights activity of both the coming decade and the past 20 years, with the spectacle being viewable more often and from more places on Earth.

“Skywatchers are excited,” said Mark Miesch, a research scientist at the University of Colorado - Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Sunspots - dark, lower temperature, strongly magnetic regions on the sun’s surface - create space weather when magnetic distortions blast particles into space. This activity, called a coronal mass ejection, sends particles over 90 million miles until they hit the Earth’s magnetic field, where particles collide with our atmosphere and create the shimmering bright lights that fill the sky.

If you have always dreamt of seeing this night-sky display, now's the time to book that holiday to northern Scandinavia, Iceland or, indeed, anywhere in the far north. You'll never get better odds of sighting auroras! To get you into the mood, take a look at some of the winners of Northern Lights Photographer of The Year 2022

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