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An RNLI crew captures the Northern Lights

Earlier this month, people from all over the UK and Ireland caught a glimpse of the spectacular Northern Lights – one of the strongest displays in years. 

The Kyle of Lochalsh RNLI crew took these stunning snaps of the vibrant Aurora Borealis while they were out at sea during a training exercise. Aren’t they fantastic?

Two crew members in an inshore lifeboat look up at the northern lights, which is making the sky glow pink and green

Photo: RNLI/Kyle of Lochalsh

Two Kyle RNLI crew members look towards the blue, pink and green sky of the northern lights

Photo: RNLI/Kyle of Lochalsh

The glowing green and pink of the aurora borealis

Photo: RNLI/Kyle of Lochalsh

What are the Northern Lights?

Did you know that these glowing waves of light are caused by activity on the Sun? Solar storms on the surface of the Sun send electrically charged particles dashing through space, which can travel millions of miles to Earth. 

Our magnetic field captures the particles and sends them rushing towards the north and south poles at high speed. The particles then interact with atoms and molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, heating them up. This causes gases in our atmosphere – like nitrogen and oxygen – to glow.

Those wavy patterns in the sky are actually the gases taking on the lines of the Earth’s magnetic field! 

The green and pink light of the aurora borealis across the sky at Kyle of Lochalsh

Photo: RNLI/Kyle of Lochalsh

A large section of the sky glows pink with the aurora borealis

Photo: RNLI/Kyle of Lochalsh

Battling the harsh winter weather

Winter, when the sky is clear and dark, and the evenings are long, is the best time to see the Northern Lights. Would you brave the cold to spot them? Perhaps you’d rather be indoors, cosy and warm?

Now imagine being a lifeboat crew member in winter, paged in the middle of the night to face freezing seas, numbing winds and sub-zero temperatures. Would you fancy facing all that aboard a lifeboat? 

Our dedicated and courageous lifesavers are always ready and willing to launch to the rescue. Take a look at some of their latest shouts in this winter rescue roundup

RNLI volunteers have been battling the winter weather to continue their mission to save every one.

Watch our winter rescue roundup