Solar Storm UK 2022: what is the weather phenomenon and will it be visible from Manchester?

A solar storm is on its way to earth...
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A solar storm has been forecasted to hit Earth as soon as this evening (3 August), and this could be visible in parts of the UK including Manchester.

The storm is an atmospheric phenomenon which could have some impact on the planet.

Here’s what we know about the storm, what we can see from a solar storm, and whether any sign of the storm will be visible in Manchester.

What is a solar storm?

A solar storm is the term given for the atmospheric conditions brought about by large amounts of energy from the sun hitting the planet.

Streams of electrical charges are launched into the atmosphere and towards the earth sometimes at speeds of three million miles per hour.

Solar flares are one such phenomenon caused by this energy.

To explain what solar flares are, a NASA spokesperson said: “A solar flare is an intense burst of radiation coming from the release of magnetic energy associated with sunspots. Flares are our solar system’s largest explosive events.

“They are seen as bright areas on the sun and they can last from minutes to hours. We typically see a solar flare by the photons (or light) it releases, at most every wavelength of the spectrum.”

What can be seen from a solar storm?

When a solar storm hits the earth, it may sometimes be possible to see bright lights which can be likened to the northern lights.

These are most likely to be seen in the sky around the Arctic Circle, which would give people in the UK and particularly Manchester a decent chance of catching a glimpse of the storm.

Where on the sun is the storm coming from?

According to the US Space Weather Prediction Center, the solar flare is coming from the Southern Hemisphere of the sun.

A spokesperson for The SWPC explained: "A geomagnetic storm is a major disturbance of Earth’s magnetosphere that occurs when there is a very efficient exchange of energy from the solar wind into the space environment surrounding Earth.

"These storms result from variations in the solar wind that produces major changes in the currents, plasmas, and fields in Earth’s magnetosphere."

Will the storm be visible in Manchester?

As the storm could impact the atmosphere, there is a small chance that any activity could be visible from parts of the UK - including Manchester.

The Met Office states that aurora sightings are possible in southern areas of the UK, but even this chance is very small.

The chances of spotting any of these auroras from the Greater Manchester area is low, but the best opportunity will be by trying to avoid areas with bad light pollution.

Currently, the Met Office states that places in the Northern Hemisphere can expect Aurora activity to remain largely at background levels.