WELL, that was just typical, writes STUART ATKINSON. After almost a week of clear nights - or at least nights clear enough to see some stars - the cloud rolled back across us on the very day that conditions were right for us to see the northern lights from our part of the country. So, in the middle of last week if it had been clear we would have been able to see the fabled 'aurora borealis' from Cumbria; instead all we got was relentless drizzle spitting out of a murky overcast sky.

Having said that, it's important note that even if it had been perfectly clear we wouldn't have seen a display of green and red beams shooting up into the sky like World War Two searchlights, or swaying, rippling curtains of light like the ones that memorably reduced Joanna Lumley to a sobbing, gasping wreck on her television programme. We would probably have seen a rainbow-like arc of green light low in the north and some pale white-pink beams stabbing up from it - but that would still have been lovely.

But all is not lost. Early March is always a good time for UK aurora hunters, even those at our relatively low South Lakes latitudes. At this time of year increased activity on the Sun often boosts the number and brightness of auroral displays, sometimes energising them enough that they can be seen from our part of the UK and even further south, too. So, if there are any more clear nights between now and the end of March keep an eye on the northern sky, just in case. If you are into tech you can download great (and free!) apps for your phones and tablets that will alert you when the aurora is active and visible from where you live, and if you use social media there are many Facebook groups and Twitter accounts you can join or follow to give you a heads up when things are starting to happen 'up there.'