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Thursday, 17 April 2014

Northern Lights put on rare display in Cumbrian skies

A rare Northern Lights display in the skies above Cumbria has been caught on camera.

These breathtaking pictures were captured by amateur photographers Ewan Miles, from his home in Geltsdale, near Castle Carrock, and Christine Clark, of Harras Moor in Whitehaven.

Ewan, 25, has long been trying to spot the famous Northern Lights – also known as Aurora Borealis.

Now in his third season as a wildlife guide, working on whale watching tours of the Isle of Mull in Scotland, he had thought his best chance would be further north.

But it was while back home at his parents’ house in Geltsdale that his dream came true in the early hours of yesterday – and he still can’t believe how much his luck was in.

“I knew there was a few reports so I’d been following it on a few websites. I knew there was a bit of activity on Monday night so I decided to stay up with my camera,” he said.

“All you can do is hope for clear skies so I gave it a few hours and was rewarded. The solar activity was so strong it came out really well. The colours and shapes were just so strong, if you looked north and watched you could see the dancing patterns.

“It was incredible to see, especially as a lot of other places in the country were cloudy. I’ve been very fortunate, especially to see it here in my local area. That makes it extra special for me.

“A lot of people are never fortunate enough to see that sort of thing. It’s really weather dependant so I’m just lucky the cloud was on my side.”

Ewan, whose dad is local wildlife expert and author John Miles, said Monday night’s Aurora was reported be the strongest solar activity in years. It eventually peaked at 2am on Tuesday, when the colours were most vibrant and movement clearly visible.

Ewan said he didn’t know whether to wake his family or neighbours but did call two friends round to see the spectacle face to face. Everyone else has been keen to see the stunning photos, which he said were taken on a long exposure to get the full benefit.

The Northern Lights were also visible in other parts of Cumbria, including from the area around Whitehaven.

Christine, 54, also stayed up with her camera in the hope of seeing the lights after seeing reports on Facebook. She was rewarded at about 1am.

Christine and her husband watched on from their back garden while Christine used different photography techniques to capture the best images possible.

The Northern Lights are usually seen in the Arctic Circle but have been visible over parts of the UK in recent days. The bright dancing lights of the Aurora are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth's atmosphere. The lights, which vary in colour, are seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres.

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