MANY Somerset residents were lucky to see the Northern Lights over the weekend.

The lights were visible across Somerset during the weekend and the photos in this article, and the photo gallery above, were taken by residents across the county.

Bridgwater Mercury:

Bridgwater Mercury:

As explained by the Met Office, the northern lights (also known as aurora borealis) appear as large areas of colour including pale green, pink, shades of red, yellow, blue and violet in the direction due north.

During a weak aurora, the colours are very faint and spread out whereas an intense aurora features greater numbers of brighter colours which can be seen higher in the sky with a distinct arc.

The northern lights are best seen in darkness, away from any light pollution.

The lights generally extend from 50 miles to as high as 400 miles above the Earth's surface.

Bridgwater Mercury:

What causes the Northern Lights?

The Met Office also explained what causes the Northern Lights.

“They occur as a consequence of solar activity and result from collisions of charged particles in the solar wind colliding with molecules in the Earth's upper atmosphere.

“Solar winds are charged particles that stream away from the Sun at speeds of around 1 million miles per hour.

“When the magnetic polarity of the solar wind is opposite to the Earth's magnetic field, the two magnetic fields combine allowing these energetic particles to flow into the Earth's magnetic north and south poles.”

Bridgwater Mercury: The Northern Lights captured by Ben and Steph, who run Blue Skies Window Cleaning.The Northern Lights captured by Ben and Steph, who run Blue Skies Window Cleaning. (Image: Ben Holton & Steph Van-De-Burgt)

A spokesperson added: “Auroras usually occur in a band called the annulus (a ring about 1,865 miles across) centred on the magnetic pole.

“The arrival of a Coronal Mass Ejections (CME) from the Sun can cause the annulus to expand, bringing the aurora to lower latitudes.

“It is under these circumstances that the lights can be seen in the UK.

“Depending on which gas molecules are hit and where they are in the atmosphere, different amounts of energy are released as different wavelengths of light.

“Oxygen gives off green light when it is hit 60 miles above the Earth, whilst at 100-200 miles rare, all-red auroras are produced.

“Nitrogen causes the sky to glow blue yet when higher in the atmosphere the glow has a purple hue.”