Northern Lights expected to be visible over Ireland tonight

Sensational Aurora Borealis light show can only be seen about once a decade in Ireland

The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, should be visible over Ireland on Friday night, Astronomy Ireland has said, in what it describes as a once-in-a-decade event.

Considered one of the greatest visual phenomena, the light show is expected to appear over Irish skies after sunset for a second night running.

It is caused by explosions on the Sun which hurl billions of tonnes of radiation towards the Earth. The planet’s magnetic field directs them to the North and South Poles, where they collide harmlessly with the upper atmosphere.

Arc of light

"Look in the north after sunset. You should at least see an arc of light low in the north, and if the display picks up as expected this could move much higher in the sky," said David Moore of Astronomy Ireland.


“In the past, perhaps once a decade, we can even see it overhead from Ireland, when it is an incredible sight.”

The solar flare reached Earth at about midnight on Thursday and could be seen as far south as Edinburgh in Scotland and Arkansas in the US.

A good view is not, however, guaranteed. It requires clear dark skies, as far away as possible from light pollution sources such as electric lights. Those hoping to catch a glimpse are advised to look in a northerly direction.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times