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Colours of the solar winds

The cosmic forces must have been in sync, because Mother Nature put on one of the most spectacular light shows over the weekend.

Forecasts for the dancing lights of the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, were good this time, but no one could have predicted something extra special.

This time, many parts of the United Kingdom and Germany were able to catch a rare glimpse of the phenomenon - when electrically charged particles from the Sun interact with the Earth's magnetic field - usually visible only in regions further north.

The BBC quoted Met Office space weather adviser Amanda Town- send, who said a "lucky combination" of conditions had made for a fantastic display.

"Once in a while, the solar winds are enhanced to levels stronger than normal, with particles at higher speeds, and on this occasion it has connected really well with the Earth's magnetic field," she said.

The views were a dream come true for amateur astronomers and photographers who flooded social media with their pictures. This time exposure shows the lights in the night sky near Lietzen, Brandenburg, Germany, on Sunday. The colour effect has been increased with the 10-second exposure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2016, with the headline 'Colours of the solar winds'. Print Edition | Subscribe