max temp: 12°C

min temp: 6°C

ESTD 1874 Search

Benhall: Stargazer captures rare Northern Lights images

17:10 28 February 2014

The Northern Lights captured by Richard Ayres of Mollett

The Northern Lights captured by Richard Ayres of Mollett's Farm in Benhall near Saxmundham.


A stargazer from Suffolk has captured rare images of the Northern Lights after a surge in solar activity made the phenomenon visible far beyond its normal confines of the Arctic Circle.


Richard Ayres, of Mollett’s Farm, Benhall, near Saxmundham, was alerted to the “Aurora-frenzy” over social media on Thursday night as the ethereal illuminations made their seldom seen appearance over the British Isles.

“I started to see people commenting on Twitter that it was not just being seen in Scotland but also in northern England, Lincolnshire, then when someone said it was in Norfolk and I thought ‘gosh, we really might have a chance to see it’.

“We could see the sky take on this rich, vivid red with these green streaks and although I’m sure it was not the same as the sights in Scandinavia and the Arctic, it was still something pretty special.”

Mr Ayres, who watched the spectacle with his wife Sasha and their eight-year-old daughter Maddy, believes the low levels of light pollution in Benhall made it possible to see what eluded so many elsewhere in the county.

The aurora are most commonly seen above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres but their appearance over the skies of Britain are a far rarer event, occurring only two or three times a year.

Scientists say that a huge solar event, known as a “coronal mass ejection”, that took place last week was responsible for the lights being visible in places as far south as Gloucestershire and Essex.

“When the sun has a major geomagnetic event, the flux of particles is so high that they can penetrate the Earth’s atmosphere at lower latitudes, which is why in England it is only after these storms that we can see the lights,” said Professor Mike Kosch, of the University of Lancaster.

“The sun has its own magnetic field and sometimes it undergoes a major perturbation for reasons that we don’t entirely know.

“The corona of the sun is highly charged and at a very high temperature releases charged particles, which we call coronal mass ejections.”


1 comment

  • Yes. Saw them at midnight last night. Amazing

    Report this comment

    John Alborough

    Friday, February 28, 2014

The launch of 'Pigs Gone Wild' at Trinity Park.

A piggie parade that is set to draw many visitors to Ipswich and raise £100,000 for a hospice charity took off in style last night at a glittering launch event.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service attended two road traffic collisions this evening.

Needham Road in Stowmarket where the crash took place

An 81-year-old cyclist who sustained serious injuries following a collision in Stowmarket last week has died.

Chelmsford Crown Court

Two teenagers that caused extensive burns to a Witham man’s face after throwing a corrosive liquid at him in a case of mistaken identity have been found guilty.

The East Anglian Air Ambulance is in attendance.

A woman has suffered a “potentially life-changing” head injury during a crash in Beccles.

Pc Jason Lambourne

When Pc Jason Lambourne isn’t working for Suffolk Constabulary, he dons another emergency services uniform for work as an extra in hit television shows and films, including the latest 007 movie.

The area off Mount Pleasant in Framlingham which could see 95 new homes built on it.

Campaigners have been left “outraged” after a decision on whether to allow 95 homes to be built on greenfield land in a historic market town was deferred.

Michael Scott, chief executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust . Photo: Steve Adams

A lack of beds and increased demand led to a four-fold increase in the cost of sending people with mental health problems outside of Norfolk and Suffolk in 2014/15.

Police have arrested a woman on suspicion of drink-driving.

A woman has been arrested on suspicion of drink-driving after her car mounted a roundabout and collided with a sign.

Police called following contentious meeting of Long Melford Parish Council

Police were called to “restore order” at a parish council meeting in a picture postcard Suffolk village because one of the councillors claimed he “feared for his safety”.

Most read

Most commented

Topic pages