Like many of the stars we see in the night sky, our own Sun is a variable star. Its activity waxes and wanes, peaking every 11 years in a phenomenon known as the Solar Cycle.

As it approaches this peak we see more dark sunspots appear on its face, and some of those sunspots can grow to huge sizes, becoming larger than our own planet.

Recently an ink blotch trail of sunspots ten times the size of Earth appeared on the Sun, so big it was even visible to the naked eye through solar eclipse glasses and was a stunning sight through telescopes fitted with solar filters.

As it developed, this sunspot group began firing off powerful solar flares, again and again, like a WWII battleship firing a broadside.

And when a sequence of these flares was directed towards Earth, astronomers who study space weather became very excited at the prospect of enhanced auroral activity in the night sky once the solar material reached Earth.

They predicted that, if everything went well, the evening of Friday 10 May 2024 might see an impressive display of the Northern Lights, perhaps even one of the largest for years.

Even though there was no guarantee of seeing anything, aurora-watchers crossed their fingers and made plans to go aurora-hunting after sunset that evening. Ref:

So on the night of 2024 May 10/11 several CMHASD members all over the UK looked up at the sky in anticipation and finally at around 10.30pm watched in amazement at an Aurora display. 

Below is a slideshow of a presentation that CMHASD member Sonia put together showing some of the images members had taken that night and 3 time lapse videos too.  Some of the photographs taken by members show vivid colours but to most naked eye observers the colours were not so obvious due to light pollution.  

Time lapse videos by Honor Wheeler.


Time lapse video by Martin Crow.