The natural phenomenon known as Aurora Borealis is usually only seen occasionally in Britain by people in Scotland the far north of England.
But a huge solar flare from the sun meant that the florescent multi-coloured lights were seen far further south in the early hours of Monday.
Chris Bell, a meteorologist at Norwich-based Weatherquest, photographed the aurora at 1am on Monday over countryside at Foxley near Fakenham, Norfolk.
He said: “It is very rare to see it this far south. I have seen auroras here before – there was a good display in 2002 – but I cannot remember another night that has been as active as Sunday night.”
“The camera did a lot of the work. I saw a pale white pillar of white and put it on a 30-second exposure.”
The Northern Lights occur when energetic charged particles from the sun collide with atoms in the upper reaches of the atmosphere, creating colourful bursts of light.
They are normally seen much closer to the poles, but during geomagnetic storms the “auroral zone” will expand to include lower latitudes including, very occasionally, parts of England.
The sun is currently approaching its “solar maximum”, the peak of an 11-year-cycle where scorching sun spots are at their most intense. …
If everything electronic suddenly catches on fire, don’t panic. NASA says a solar flare won’t destroy the earth in 2012.
“A powerful, well-aimed CME could thus wreak serious havoc on our increasingly tech-enabled and tech-dependent society. But it wouldn’t destroy the planet or wipe out humanity, researchers said.”