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A sunspot 62,000 miles across - ten times bigger than Earth - is releasing gigantic solar flares that have created astonishing light shows over Britain, described by one sky-watcher as the best he'd ever seen. Known as auroras, they are caused by radiation particles from the sun bouncing off Earth's atmosphere and are normally only seen in countries in the far north, such as Norway. However, they've been photographed as far south as Oxfordshire and in Northumberland, where the skies became a dramatic green and purple hue.
A coronal mass ejection (CME) hit Earth's magnetic field around noon Universal Time on Sept. 26th. The impact set the stage for a night to remember. As soon as darkness fell over Scandinavia, auroras filled the sky with such intensity that they were visible through rain clouds. Fredrik Broms photographed the scene from Kvaløya, Norway. "These were some of the most amazing auroras I have ever seen," says Broms, a longtime observer of the Arctic lights. "The colours were absolutely stunning with purple and deep blood-red in addition to the green. It was a night I will never forget!