Rare northern and southern lights visible at lower latitudes, here's how to see them

The northern lights are currently visible at lower latitudes than normal, with displays being seen as far south as Arizona and Florida. The displays are the result of some of the strongest geomagnetic storms in over 20 years and experts believe the displays will continue throughout the weekend and possibly into next week. However, don't expect the aurora to be brilliantly bright in your backyard, here's what you should know to maximize your viewing chances:

Firstly, you're going to need to know when sunset is as auroral activity might be seen at any time of the day or night, but it won't be visible unless it's very dark. Twilight lasts for around an hour after sunset which is when you're most likely to see the aurora, so ensure you're outside in a dark location roughly 90 minutes after sunset.

You're going to need to check the cloud cover, if it's cloudy you won't see anything. Low cloud is the main issue, so check your local weather to see if those clouds are going to ruin your view. An app like Clear Outside, the Scope Nights app, or Windy are good for giving information on low, medium, and high cloud cover.

You should then check the likelihood of aurora. There are apps that can alert you when aurora is likely in your area, two examples are My Aurora Forecast & Alerts and AuroraWatchUK. You should also check the Aurora - 30 Minute Forecast at the Space Weather Prediction Center.

City lights are your enemy when it comes to viewing the aurora, get out of the city and to dark country skies where you'll have a much better chance of seeing the displays. Around 20 miles away from a city will considerably improve your viewing chances. Use a Dark Sky Place finder or check the light pollution map in your area. In the UK, there's a network of Dark Sky Discovery Sites.

Finally, if you want to try and capture the aurora on your smartphone, which is completely possible, you'll want to take a tripod and shoot in raw. Long exposures are what gives the stunning colorful images that may look grey to the naked eye, and a tripod will stop any shaking hands ruining your photos. Try and use a universal smartphone mount with the tripod for the best shots.

Enjoy the aurora while you can, this is a once-in-a-decade display and it'll be some time before you have another chance to easily see it this far south.

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