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Northern lights dance over England

m9 class solar flare january 23 2012

This still from a NASA space observatory video shows one view of a powerful, M9-class solar storm that unleashed a coronal mass ejection toward Earth in the early hours of Jan. 23, 2012 (GMT). (NASA/SDO/SOHO)

The northern lights have lit up the skies above Scotland, northern England and northern parts of Ireland -- and more light shows are expected in the next few days.

The northern lights are sometimes seen from northern Scotland but they were also visible Monday night from northeast England and Ireland, where such sightings are a rarity.

Ken Kennedy, director of the Aurora section of the British Astronomical Association, said the northern lights, also known as the aurora borealis, may be visible for a few more days.

The Canadian Space Agency posted a geomagnetic storm warning Tuesday after residents were also treated to a spectacular show in the night sky.

Monday night's auroras were likely just variations in normal background solar wind, not the solar storm that erupted Sunday, said physicist Doug Biesecker at the U.S. Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado. That was the biggest solar storm in more than six years.

He said a geomagnetic storm Tuesday that came from that solar storm seemed to mostly miss Earth, going a bit north, so it was unlikely that auroras would extend too far south Tuesday night.

Geomagnetic storms cause awesome sights, but they can also bring trouble. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, problems can include current surges in power lines, and interference in the broadcast of radio, TV and telephone signals.