Friday, 7 March 2014


One evening last week, my mobile phone chirped with an incoming text.

'Northern Lights now!' the message read, and as we had not yet experienced this phenomenon, we rushed outside.

Due north of our home, just over the hill, is Kirkwall Airport and then the town of Kirkwall itself. These are probably our only real sources of light pollution, but Northern Lights tend to be in the north, I guess.

As our eyes became accustomed to the gloom, we were aware of a pale, slowly changing cloudscape close to the horizon. Hey, those aren't clouds. And they're very faintly green.

The aurora!

But as we watched, the colour intensified and then morphed into red as well.


I now rushed back indoors. My camera was not set up for this kind of photography, a shocking lack of respect for the 7 Ps. Shame on me.

Swapping lenses, dialling in a set of best guess parameters and mantling a tripod all at the same time, I stumbled back outside into the dark and experimented with a few shots.

Perhaps focussing would be a good idea?

That's a bit better

 But as the evening progressed, things were to become a bit more lively.

Not sure what was causing the ripple effect in the centre, but it was apparent on many of my shots
Northern Lights and the Light Of My Life
This particular auroral show was visible over much of the UK and much further south into England than normal, possibly the best display for several decades. We were privileged to witness it as our first Northern Lights sighting.

The next morning, the local Facebook page for sky phenomena was aglow with some amazing photographs, all a zillion times better than mine!


Katie (Nature ID) said...

W.O.W. Very, very, cool, Graeme! I'm guessing that circular moiré pattern has to do with your camera lens and some focal thingie (ya, real technical). I've only once ever see Northern Lights from the shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, OH during an outdoor evening party 12 years ago. I remember there being a lot of purple, which surprised me. They're really something to marvel.

Imperfect and Tense said...

It was rather good! The nice thing was that it kicked off early in the evening. We're normally fast asleep by midnight when the peak activity happens. My photos were taken between 8 and 9pm. I had the best sleep in months that night!

Martin said...

Beautiful, I am glad you got to see them (and so soon).

Imperfect and Tense said...

If I had ever begun a so-called 'bucket' list, then the aurora would have been fairly high up the rankings!