To star gazers: Fireworks show called Northern Lights coming

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The annual event is expected to be visible over Western Europe, northern Turkey and northern Iraq, with skywatchers advised to wear sturdy winter clothing

To star gazers: Fireworks show called Northern Lights coming

If you’re planning a picnic, or standing by the window in the countryside, perhaps Sunday night is the night to watch the Northern Lights.

That’s according to forecasters, who say the lights are set to be visible for a few hours across western Europe, northern Turkey and northern Iraq.

The annual phenomenon is now expected to last for up to four hours, with the northern sky set to become visible in northern France, Holland, the English Channel, southern Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

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The phenomenon is caused by eruptions on the sun, in a series of glows known as solar storms. When those bursts hit the earth’s magnetic field, they interact with Earth’s atoms and molecules, inducing a geomagnetic disturbance.

Ornithologists consider the night when the lights were last visible to be the “Northern Lights”, owing to a last-minute decision by the French astronomer Jean-Michel Arrion to show the light show on one particular night in March 1979.

The aurora borealis now shows up as an “Earthbow”, which can be seen between the northern and southern lights in the year and especially if there is one of the sub-agencies – Fana and Orionids/Geminids – organised.

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In 2009, a flare flared up from the sun, which may have affected the lights, causing the aurora borealis to be seen in northern Europe only for a few hours, according to the Astronomical Society of New Zealand.

The same conditions as in 1979 should allow for the lights to be seen around 10pm this Sunday.

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