18 September 2017 09:59

A new detector has been installed in the Shetland Islands which will allow Lancaster physicists to closely monitor the Northern Lights or aurora borealis.

Lancaster University’s AuroraWatch UK has worked with the Shetland Amenity Trust to install the magnetometer in the grounds of the Sumburgh Head lighthouse.

AuroraWatch UK measures interactions between solar wind and the Earth's magnetosphere and issues alerts to subscribers when the Northern Lights may be visible.

Physicist Dr Nathan Case from AuroraWatch UK said: "Being much closer to the auroral oval than the rest of the UK, the aurora has often been visible from Shetland when our Aberdeen magnetometer barely registered any magnetic disturbance.

“Adding this Shetland magnetometer will help us provide more accurate and timely alerts for those in Shetland, Orkney, and the rest of far-north Scotland.

“The Shetland magnetometer will also allow for scientific analyses of the Earth’s magnetic field. In particular, we’ll be able to see how the magnetic field varies in response to the aurora at different latitudes.”