Northern Lights captured by Isle of Man photographer

Aurora Borealis The Northern Lights were photographed by Dave Thornley near Dalby

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The Northern Lights have been photographed by a stargazer on the west coast of the Isle of Man.

Dave Thornley, from Peel, photographed the Aurora Borealis from just outside Dalby at about 22:00 GMT on Wednesday.

Mr Thornley had been driving home with his 10-year-old son when he spotted the display, which he said was "incredibly bright and quite spectacular."

The glow is usually best seen from northern latitudes like Norway, Alaska, Iceland and northern Scotland.

WHAT CAUSES THE AURORA?

It all starts at the sun: the outer layers of the sun are constantly evaporating, and are blown into space. We call that the solar wind.

The magnetic field of the Earth is an obstacle for the solar wind, and it diverts the wind to flow around Earth by a wide margin (about 10-15 times Earth's diameter).

In doing so, the solar wind exchanges energy with Earth's magnetic field and the particles that are trapped inside this field.

Some of this energy gets dissipated by accelerating trapped particles along the field lines towards the polar regions.

There these energetic electrons collide with the neutral atoms and molecules of the upper atmosphere.

This causes the components of the upper atmosphere to glow, and create aurora.

'Left speechless'

Mr Thornley said: "I had my camera in the back of the car and we were very lucky to be in the right place at the right time.

"My son couldn't believe his eyes. It was the first time he had witnessed it and he was left speechless."

It is the second time Mr Thornley has captured the occurrence on camera, having photographed it from Ballaugh beach in 2012.

"Both Peel Hill and Corrin's Tower can be seen on the right of my picture but it could be even better tonight if the sky is clear," he said.

For the chance of spotting the Northern Lights, Mr Thornley recommends finding a dark spot with a view of the Northern horizon.

"If the conditions are good you will have a good chance anywhere between Dalby and Bride," he said.

The Northern Lights happen when incoming solar radiation hits the earth's upper atmosphere and excites atoms to a new energy state, emitting colours which is energy in the form of light.

Howard Parkin, chairman of the Isle of Man Astronomical Society, said: "The Aurora Borealis can be seen from the Isle of Man about two or three times a year but it is rare for all the conditions to be right."

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