Northern Lights
© Caters
The Northern Lights in Scotland
A seven-hour 'perfect magnetic storm' produced what was said to be the best Northern Lights show of the year last night.

Spectators across northern England and Scotland captured photos of the dancing green Aurora Borealis lights, some with pink tinges.

The British Geological Survey said Britain's most visible Northern Lights event of 2012 lasted from 9pm to 4am.

According to NASA, the show was caused by the sun spitting out a giant mass of solar particles - known as a 'coronal mass ejection' - which smashed into the earth's magnetic field at 24,000mph.

The Northern Lights are usually only spotted in the UK on a few nights each year.

Aurora Borealis
© Paul Kingston / NNP
The Aurora Borealis reflected in the glass-like waters of Derwentwater, near Keswick.
Sarah Reay, of the British Geological Survey's geomagnetism team, said of last night's lights: "It's quite possibly the most widely-visible Aurora show this year, with good activity, a long duration and widely-visible due to clear skies.

"The magnetic storm lasted 48 hours and the peak was perfectly centred in our night-time.

"The sun ejected a cloud of charged plasma particles, which hit the earth's magnetic field, causing a magnetic storm. This agitated atoms and oxygen in the atmosphere glowed green."

But viewers had to wrap up warm to see the dramatic spectacle as clear skies meant temperatures early this morning plunged, dropping as low as -4.9C at Tulloch Bridge in Invernessshire - a new UK record for October 9 - and -2.5C in Shap, Cumbria.

Transport Scotland deployed 82 lorries to grit almost all of the country's 2,100-mile trunk road network, just two weeks after the September 22 solstice many consider to mark the end of summer.

British Weather Services forecast that -6C lows would set in early tomorrow morning, breaking the coldest date temperatures record for the second day in a row.

The October 10 record currently stands at -5.8C.

Britain's lowest ever October temperature is -11.7C, recorded in Delphinine, Highland, on October 28, 1948.

Elsewhere, pea-soup fog has caused transport problems this week, with visibility reportedly reduced to 50m in parts of Norfolk.

All of Scotland is meanwhile on flood alert, as up to 80mm of rain threatens from tomorrow night.

England is set to see lower amounts.