Sunderland photographer captures Northern Lights

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SUNDERLAND snapper Elliss Carrick captured this stunning image of Aurora Borealis – better known as the Northern Lights – which lit up the night skies.

The Northern Lights are usually visible in only the more northern parts of the UK, but a surge in geomagnetic activity last night led to them appearing much further south than usual and were clearly visible off the east coast across the UK on Thursday.

Elliss, from Hall Farm, Sunderland, made the trip down to St Mary’s Lighthouse, in Whitley Bay, to take these fantastic photos.

The Northern Lights appear as shimmering waves of light when atoms in the Earth’s high-altitude atmosphere collide with energetic charged particles from the sun.

Astronomers say seeing the Aurora Borealis in the UK was “a rare treat”.

The display occurs when explosions on the surface of the Sun hurl huge amounts of charged particles into space, according to the British Geological Survey.

Those thrown towards Earth are captured by its magnetic field and guided towards the geomagnetic polar regions. Charged particles collide with gas molecules in the atmosphere, and the subsequent energy is given off as light.

Geomagnetic storms follow an 11-year “solar cycle”, and the last “solar maximum” was last year.