Northern Lights Over Part of England

This was the beautiful scene as the Northern Lights made a rare but breathtaking appearance over parts of England. The first picture shows the iridescent glow in the skies over County Durham, while the next is of the ethereal light that bathed the Tan Hill Inn in North Yorkshire. Such impressive sights are normally witnessed only much further north, in the icy wilderness of the Arctic Circle.

Stargazers in parts of Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland and in North East England were also able to see the dazzling display.

The lonely Tan Hill Pub on the Pennine moorland in North Yorkshire is dwarfed as the stunning light show fills the sky above

Two walkers on the moors of the Pennines in County Durham pause to take in the flickering light show

The Northern Lights, or aurora borealis, have been glimpsed in Scotland and England in recent years but astronomers say unusually strong solar storms have produced its best appearance for more than a decade – with purples, yellows, oranges and even neon green filling the sky.

The display was captured on Sunday but should have been visible last night and again tonight and tomorrow. Robin Scagell, of the Society for Popular Astronomy, said: 'It looks like we could be treated to another cosmic light show and so it is well worth watching the northern part of the heavens.

Green glory: Photographer Reed Ingram Weir took this beautiful picture from the A1 near Alnwick, Northumberland

The night sky above the A1. Stargazers in Northern Ireland, Ireland and in North East England were also able to see the dazzling display

In spite of light pollution obscuring much of the lower horizons of the night sky, the dramatic glowing mass that is the Milky Way galaxy shines (top left to bottom right) creating a dazzling display in Teesdale, County Durham

'It is a new moon at present so any aurora will show up better in a dark night sky.'

Photographer Paul Kingston, who captured the sight over the Tan Hill Inn in the Pennines, said: 'To the naked eye it was so subtle that at first I didn’t realise exactly what I was seeing, but a long exposure in the camera made it suddenly jump out at me.

'As my eyes became more and more attuned I could see it flickering across the sky more and more clearly – a fantastic sight.'

The Northern Lights are caused by charged electrons from the sun colliding with atoms in the outer reaches of Earth’s atmosphere, 60 to 200 miles up.

These particles stream away from the sun at speeds of about 1million mph and are drawn to Earth’s northern and southern poles by its magnetic field.

Which atoms the electrons encounter when they hit the Earth – either oxygen or nitrogen – and the altitude at which they meet, determine whether the colours are green, red, blue or purple.

The magnetic and electrical forces continue to react, making it look as if the lights are dancing.

The lights have been seen so far south because the solar explosion that sent out the particles was particularly strong.