NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Aurora Borealis detector to be installed in Shetland

Aurora borealis photographed from South Uist Image copyright Maria MacDonald
Image caption Aurora borealis photographed from South Uist in the Western Isles

An organisation offering alerts to potential sightings of the Aurora Borealis hopes to be able to provide them earlier from a new Shetland site.

Lancaster University's AuroraWatch UK plans to install detection equipment in the islands.

Shetland would be its most northerly location for a detector. It currently has equipment in Aberdeen.

Other organisations such as British Geological Survey plus Nasa and NOAA in the US offer information on the aurora.

AuroraWatch UK's planned new magnetometer would involve using a low-cost Raspberry Pi computer.

The kit could become the model for a magnetometer affordable to citizen scientists in the future, the organisation has suggested.

The aurora, also known as the Northern Lights, is caused by the interaction of solar wind - a stream of charged particles escaping the Sun - and Earth's magnetic field and atmosphere.

In the UK, Scotland offers some of the best places to observe the aurora and spectacular displays have been photographed from locations in the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and East Lothian.

Last month, aurora watchers were alerted to the chances of seeing a new type of light that had been indentified in the night sky and named Steve.

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