The Aurora Borealis and Dark Skies

September 11, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

There was fair amount of media coverage in the press last week about the Aurora being visible in the night sky, this being caused by both a massive Solar Flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME). The peak level of activity was over the night of Thursday 7th September but unfortunately the near full moon in the night sky and the amount of cloud cover across the UK meant that not everyone that could have been able to view the Aurora was able to.

There are now several sites which issue Aurora alerts by text, email or through smartphone Apps. I tend to rely on the AuroraWatchUK app which will alert you as to when the Aurora may be visible.

In the UK the two major factors influencing your chances of seeing the Aurora are your geographical location and how dark the sky in your location is, so in a nutshell if you are in the far North with dark skies you are going to get the best views when the Aurora is visible, a great resource in finding out how dark your sky is can be found here.

I decided to venture out during the wee small hours of the 8th of September to see if I could catch a glimpse of the Aurora, living in rural Dumfries and Galloway the skies are quite dark but there was plenty of clouds around to spoil the view.

When the Auroral activity is as high as it was on this occasion the colours can be seen with the naked eye but the sensor on a modern digital camera is so much more sensitive to light it will always show much more than what the eye can see.

Things did not look that good when I arrived at my chosen location, Torhouse Stone Circle as the sky was nearly totally obscured by clouds.

 

But a little patience paid off as after hanging around for an hour or so there was a big enough gap in the clouds to get a sight of the Aurora which unfortunately had began to die down a little by then but always an amazing sight to see any sign of the Aurora in the night sky.

Aurora in Dumfries and Galloway from a previous occasion.

aurora borealis, scotlandAurora Over Port LoganAurora visible in the far south of Scotland in the early hours of February 28th 2014, beautiful colours in the sky seen over the harbour at Port Logan in Dumfries and Galloway

Until the next time.

 

 

 


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