AURORA DISPLAY 23RD JANUARY

The expected CME impact from the sun didn't disappoint on the 22nd/23rd January over the skies of Northern Ireland. What did disappoint was the weather.I knew the northern lights were visible outside that evening because i had been frantically checking the aurora charts all day in anticipation of this event. Overhead though was thick cloud cover and a quick check on the weather satellite image didn't inspire much confidence in any clear breaks in the cloud. The whole past winter had been a disaster for night-sky imaging in this country because of cloud cover, i couldnt believe i was going to miss out again. Because of the conditions i couldn't really commit to an interesting location for shooting the aurora so stayed at home, periodically going outside to check the sky for clear spells.Finally i was rewarded at 01:05hrs!



A clear slot to the north and a quick shot with the 50mm revealed that magic green glow on the camera screen. The whole night turned on that one image-success and it looked a good display. I jumped in the car and headed for the high ground you can see on the above image-the Pigeon Top. On arrival any clear slots had disappeared so i parked up and waited... and waited.I was very close to calling it a night at 2am, was about to start the car, but said no i'll give it another 10-15 minutes. Really glad i did because after a few minutes i could see a couple of stars out to the west and realised a clearance was coming.I started taking images but it was evident that the aurora was past its best at this stage and had retreated back north.



Thats me watching the last of the cloud moving off and you can make out the glow of the aurora now.



Pigeon Top picnic area




Zoomed in a bit on this one.Aurora with verticle rays which could be seen moving easily with the naked eye and a faint red aurora above that.Although this location is a good vantage point and certainly one of the best places locally to see the aurora, its not the best for taking images. Theres just too many towns directly north of here and the light pollution is too strong, ideally you want to be north of all those population centers and that means the north coast. For future aurora displays, with reasonable clear skies this is my target.


Nevertheless i was delighted to catch another aurora display and look forward to many more.