Quick! Here’s your opportunity to fix your Fomo over the Northern Lights

If you missed the spectacle of the aurora borealis being visible across the UK a few weeks ago, tonight might be your chance to see something just as spectacular, writes Ryan Coogan

Monday 03 June 2024 13:22 BST
The phenomenon was mostly visible in the north of the country, so if you lived in London you were out of luck
The phenomenon was mostly visible in the north of the country, so if you lived in London you were out of luck (PA Wire)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


The universe is infinitely bigger than the human mind could ever possibly conceive, and is filled with more stars than you could count in a million billion lifetimes. Our corner of the cosmos is so tiny and insignificant that in statistical terms it doesn’t even exist at all – which is worth bearing in mind the next time you have an anxiety attack because you can’t decide what to watch on Netflix.

Every now and then, though, we get a little glimpse of the overwhelming majesty of the heavens. Some astral phenomenon that reminds us just how truly astonishing God’s creation truly is. They grant us an opportunity to reflect on how we fit into this grand design we were assigned by accident of birth – also, they’re a great time to get some choice shots for your Instagram. Hashtag stars, hashtag deep.

Tonight, stargazers will be treated to just such a spectacle, when six of the planets in our solar system will be visible at the same time in one evening. The phenomenon, known as the “parade of planets”, will see Mercury, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune appear closer together in the sky than on a normal night, allowing you to capture them all in the same photograph – if you have the right equipment. While Mars and Saturn will be relatively easy to spot, others may require the aid of a high-powered telescopic lens.

‘Stunning’ Northern Lights spotted across UK

Nevertheless, it should be a great way to get over your Fomo if you were one of the unlucky people to miss out last month, when the northern lights could be seen across the UK and Ireland. The phenomenon was mostly visible in the north of the country, so if you lived in our nation’s capital you were out of luck (although to be fair, you guys do get just about everything else – let the Mancs have the pretty lights).

I was one of those unfortunate people – I had only moved to London from Northern Ireland a few weeks before the aurora borealis came knocking, which meant the whole evening my phone was blowing up with messages from people back home staring in awe at the purple and green lights dancing above their houses. Meanwhile, here in the Big Smoke, I was treated to the sight of my neighbours screaming at each other under a grey and featureless sky. The magic of the city.

I was a bit of a space nerd when I was a kid, so this kind of stuff gets me excited. I’m no Carl Sagan, but I really do think it’s special when we get a unique of these interstellar bodies that have loomed over us our entire lives, always just out of reach.

It helps put things into perspective. We’re currently in the middle of an election campaign that’s only been going on for 12 days, but feels like it’s been happening since the beginning of time. You can’t put on the TV or open social media without hearing about some horrible thing we’re doing to each other right here on Earth – sometimes it’s worth looking up at the stars and thinking “God, we really could be doing so much more with this brief opportunity we’ve been given, couldn’t we?”

So if you get a chance this evening, head out into your garden, or onto your driveway or pavement, and take a look.

Maybe while you’re there you can reflect on how blessed we all are to be here, even for the flickering birthday candle in a pitch-black auditorium that is the human lifespan; how all those things you spend day after day worrying about don’t even make a ripple in the vast ocean that is our universe; and how you can help to make things a little easier for people down here during the vanishingly brief period in which your paths intersect.

And even if you don’t, at least you’ll get some good pics for Instagram.

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