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Aurora Alert: Another chance to see the Northern Lights tonight

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THE UK was treated to a spectacular display of the Northern Lights on Friday night, courtesy of one of the most intense geomagnetic storms in recent years. With reports of visible auroras across the nation, many are now hopeful for a repeat performance tonight.

The celestial display was made possible by a G4 geomagnetic storm, the second highest warning level, which the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) issued for the weekend. This is the first such warning since 2005, highlighting the rarity and intensity of the current solar activity. According to The Guardian, the sun unleashed a series of strong solar flares starting Wednesday, leading to multiple plasma outbursts that have the potential to disrupt satellites and power grids.

These solar flares, originating from what are known as coronal mass ejections, were the catalysts for Friday’s stunning aurora borealis. As the charged particles from the sun struck the Earth’s magnetic field, they created the awe-inspiring colours that lit up the night sky.

Looking ahead to tonight, the Met Office’s space weather manager, Krista Hammond, indicated that the Northern Lights might still be visible, though likely on a smaller scale. “Aurora visibility may persist through Saturday night, but as it stands this is likely to be less widespread than on Friday night, with northern parts of the UK most likely to continue to have the best viewing potential,” Hammond stated.

Residents in the south of England, who were fortunate enough to witness the phenomenon last night, may find their chances diminished this evening. Historically, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and the northern regions of England are more favoured for viewing the Northern Lights during such geomagnetic events.

The clear skies on Friday played a crucial role in the visibility of the aurora, as reported by BBC News. Those eager to catch another glimpse of the Northern Lights are advised to seek spots away from city lights and hope for similar weather conditions tonight.

As the solar storm continues to influence our planet, the UK remains on alert for more breathtaking views of one of nature’s most extraordinary displays.

What you need to know about the Northern Lights

Unravelling the Mysteries of the Aurora

Every now and then, the skies above the polar regions are lit up with a dazzling display of colours, creating what is perhaps one of nature’s most splendid spectacles: the aurora. In the northern latitudes, it is known as the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, while in the southern latitudes, it is referred to as the Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights. This celestial phenomenon has captivated humans for millennia, inspiring folklore and scientific inquiry alike. But what causes these breathtaking light shows?

A Cosmic Dance of Solar Wind and Earth’s Magnetosphere

The story of the aurora begins with the sun, the life-giving star at the centre of our solar system. The sun is constantly emitting a flow of charged particles known as the solar wind. This stream of particles is mostly composed of electrons and protons ejected from the sun’s atmosphere due to the intense heat at its core.

When these charged particles travel towards Earth, they encounter the Earth’s magnetosphere, an invisible magnetic field that surrounds our planet. This magnetic shield protects us from the solar wind. However, the magnetic field is weaker at the poles, and here, the charged particles can enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

As the particles collide with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere, they transfer their energy to atoms and molecules of oxygen and nitrogen, exciting them into higher energy states. When these atoms and molecules return to their normal energy state, they release light — a process called radiative recombination. The colour of the light depends on the type of gas and the altitude of the interaction. Oxygen typically emits greenish-yellow or red light, while nitrogen can give off blue or purplish-red light.

The Influence of Geomagnetic Activity

The intensity and frequency of auroral displays are significantly affected by the geomagnetic activity around Earth. This activity is often heightened during solar maxima — periods of intense solar activity marked by an increased number of sunspots and solar flares. These events enhance the flow of solar wind, making the auroras more frequent and vivid.

Geomagnetic storms, another key influencer, can dramatically increase the brightness and extent of auroral activity. These storms occur when a large explosion on the sun, such as a coronal mass ejection, sends a huge cloud of magnetic plasma toward Earth, disrupting the magnetosphere and enhancing the flow of charged particles into the upper atmosphere.

Viewing the Aurora

Witnessing an aurora is a bucket-list experience for many. The best times to view the Northern Lights are typically during the winter months in the Arctic regions such as Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland, where the nights are long and dark. Similarly, the Southern Lights can be best observed from high southern latitudes in Antarctica, and more accessible locations like Tasmania and New Zealand, during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter.

The aurora is a reminder of our planet’s dynamic nature and its intimate connection with the cosmic forces of the solar system. As we continue to study this magnificent phenomenon, we not only learn more about our own planet but also gain insights into the workings of our solar system and beyond, illustrating once again the wonders of the universe we inhabit.

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Community

Castle Square Bike Night raises funds for Blood Bikes Wales

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HAVERFORDWEST was abuzz with excitement recently as Castle Square hosted its much-anticipated Bike Night. The event, held on Wednesday, 22nd May, saw an impressive turnout of motorcycle enthusiasts from across the region, all gathering for a worthy cause.

Castle Square Bike Night, which began at 6:30 PM, transformed the heart of Haverfordwest. The event aimed to bring together bikers of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate their shared passion for motorcycles while supporting Blood Bikes Wales, a charity dedicated to providing free, out-of-hours transport of essential medical items to NHS facilities across Wales.

The square was a sea of colour and chrome, with bikes of all makes and models on the town square. From sleek sports bikes to vintage classics, the variety on display was a testament to the diverse biking community in Pembrokeshire. Riders and spectators alike admired the impressive machines, swapped stories, and enjoyed the atmosphere.

Donations were collected throughout the evening, with all proceeds going directly to Blood Bikes Wales.

The charity relies entirely on volunteers and donations to operate, and events like these are crucial in ensuring they can continue their vital service. “We are incredibly grateful to everyone who has supported us tonight,” said a representative from Blood Bikes Wales. “The generosity of the biking community is truly heartwarming, and it makes a significant difference in our ability to provide life-saving services.”

As the evening drew to a close, the success of Castle Square Bike Night was evident in the smiling faces and the positive feedback from attendees. The event not only celebrated the love of motorcycles but also highlighted the power of community action in supporting charitable causes.

Castle Square Bike Night has firmly established itself as a key event in the Haverfordwest calendar, and the organisers are already looking forward to the next gathering. With its combination of passion, community spirit, and charitable giving, it is sure to remain a highlight for years to come.

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News

Pembrokeshire farm tent camping site plans backed

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Plans to expand a tent site at a Pembrokeshire farm which has diversified into tourism since the 1980s have been backed by councillors.

In an application before Pembrokeshire County Council’s May meeting of its planning committee, Mr and Mrs James sought permission to expand a tent site at South Cockett Caravan and Tent Site, Broadway, Broadhaven.

The application included a number of enhancements which would improve its visual appearance.

The Council Landscape Officer has raised no objection, advising that the additional hedgebank is to be encouraged.

Speaking at the meeting, agent Andrew Vaughan-Harris said three generations of the James family had been farming some 140 acres, in a mix of sheep, beef and cattle, and now had 70 touring caravan pitches on-site after diversifying in the 1980s.

“It’s a good news story over the last 30 years, it’s now up to 50 per cent of their income,” he told planners, adding the applicants had invested £180,000 on-site in the last couple of years.

“They still want to have a site for tents, now we have the application in front of us for a further field,” he added.

He finished: “This is helping sustainable farming; it is creating jobs.”

Members of the committee unanimously backed a recommendation to approve the scheme.

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News

General Election: Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion hopefuls for new seats

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WITH a July 4 date announced for the General Election, confirmed candidates for the two new seats in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion will be gearing up their campaigns.

As part of constituency changes, Pembrokeshire’s current seats of Preseli Pembrokeshire and Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire have changed.

As part of the changes, parts of north Pembrokeshire – including St Davids – are joining the new Mid and South Pembrokeshire constituency, which will replace the Pembrokeshire parts of the current Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire.

The north of the county will be part of a new Ceredigion Preseli constituency joining parts of north Pembrokeshire – including Crymych and Maenclochog – with Ceredigion.

Current hopefuls for the Mid and South Pembrokeshire seat are Welsh Liberal Democrat Alistair Cameron, with Stephen Crabb for the Conservatives and Henry Tufnell for Labour.

Candidates confirmed to date in the neighbouring constituency of Ceredigion Preseli are Ben Lake for Plaid Cymru, Liberal Democrat Mark Williams, a former MP for Ceredigion, and Welsh Labour’s Jackie Jones, and  Conservative candidate Aled Thomas.

The constituancy changes follow a Westminster vote to cut the number of Welsh MPs from 40 to 32; each constituency  must contain between 69,724 and 77,062 voters, with the exception of Ynys Mon.

The new Ceredigion Preseli constituency has a road distance of nearly 75 miles from the extreme north to southwest of the new constituency.

The Boundary Commission for Wales made minor changes to previous proposals, removing St Davids, Solva and Letterston from the proposed Ceredigion Preseli constituency and including the Maenclochog ward instead.

Mid and south Pembrokeshire, under the changes, will have the largest number of electors of any of the constituencies in Wales, at 76,820.

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