A dream fulfilled last night was seeing the Northern Lights, but I never imagined that I’d actually get to see them at home and that we’d have such a strong aurora borealis display here in Somerset. I took some photos with the phone camera. It didn’t look this intense with the naked eye, but it was still one of the most beautiful things I’ve seen. Quite amazing.

Clive Chamberlain


Steve Hogan Photography


Samantha Stockley

Corfe Castle

Martin Coward

Hardy’s Monument


Louise Stevens

West Bay

The Station Kitchen


Aurora Borealis: Nature’s Dance of Light

The Aurora Borealis, often referred to as the Northern Lights, is a breathtaking natural phenomenon that graces the night skies of the Earth’s polar regions. This captivating display of light, colour, and movement has fascinated humanity for centuries, inspiring myths, legends, and scientific inquiry.

The Aurora Borealis occurs when charged particles emitted by the sun during solar flares and coronal mass ejections interact with the Earth’s magnetosphere. These particles, mainly electrons and protons, are drawn towards the Earth’s polar regions by its magnetic field. As they collide with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, particularly oxygen and nitrogen, they release energy in the form of light, creating the luminous curtains, arcs, and swirls characteristic of the Aurora Borealis.

The colours of the aurora depend on the type of gas particles involved in the collision and their altitude. Oxygen molecules produce green and red light, while nitrogen molecules contribute shades of blue and purple. The intensity and movement of the aurora vary, influenced by factors such as solar activity, atmospheric conditions, and magnetic disturbances.

Throughout history, the Aurora Borealis has captivated the human imagination, giving rise to a myriad of myths, folklore, and cultural interpretations. In indigenous cultures of the Arctic regions, such as the Inuit and Sami people, the Northern Lights are often viewed as spiritual phenomena, imbued with mystical significance. They are believed to be the spirits of ancestors or celestial deities dancing across the sky, communicating with the living world.

In Norse mythology, the Aurora Borealis is associated with Bifröst, the burning rainbow bridge that connects the mortal realm (Midgard) to the realm of the gods (Asgard). According to legend, the lights were reflections from the shields and armour of the Valkyries as they escorted fallen warriors to Valhalla.

While ancient civilizations interpreted the Aurora Borealis through myth and folklore, modern science has provided a deeper understanding of this natural wonder. Advances in technology, such as satellites, ground-based observatories, and atmospheric research, have enabled scientists to study the aurora’s mechanisms and predict its occurrence with greater accuracy.

Researchers have discovered that the intensity of the aurora correlates with the solar cycle, with peak activity occurring roughly every eleven years. During periods of high solar activity, known as solar maximums, the aurora can be visible at lower latitudes, delighting skywatchers far beyond the polar regions. The above experience from Somerset is a testament to this.

The Aurora Borealis stands as a testament to the beauty and complexity of the natural world. Its shimmering lights dancing across the night sky inspire wonder, awe, and a profound appreciation for the interconnectedness of the Earth and the cosmos. As we continue to unravel the mysteries of this celestial spectacle, let us cherish and protect this ephemeral yet enduring symbol of nature’s grandeur.

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