Nature’s Fireworks


I’ve been interested in amateur astronomy since the age of 7; that’s forty years.  For the first twenty I was obsessed with astronomy and spent many, many, nights out in the open gazing at “God’s canvas”. I built my own 6 inch reflecting telescope when I was 16, and just before Halley’s comet made an appearance in 1986 I spent my Summer job’s earnings on a ‘real’ telescope. This was a photo taken in 2004…  before the grey hair…

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I’d never seen the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis). Not a single glimpse in 40 years of looking at the night sky.  Living in the industrial heartland of the Midlands; the sky was too light polluted and my location a little too far South.

Now living in Scotland I’m further North and the skies are dark – really dark. The Milky Way is always visible; a thing of beauty that unfortunately has been lost to city dwellers.

On Monday evening I stepped outside to put out the trash; only to see 3 ‘search lights’ reaching up into the Northern sky.  I was slightly annoyed at first; after all I don’t want *my* dark sky light polluted. Then confused; over the hills there is an uninhabited glen and the nearest town is 12 miles away. The penny dropped; the ‘search lights’ were moving. It was infact a truly fantastic display of the Northern Lights.

I think I’d already missed the best of it, but quickly grabbed my tripod and camera…

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Looking East. Ballachulish bridge illuminated left of centre.
18mm Lens F3.5 – 75sec – ISO1600
08 Oct 2012 23:51

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Looking North. The ‘handle’ of the plough (Ursa Major) Left of Centre.
All reflected in Loch Leven.
18mm Lens F3.5 – 90 sec – ISO1600
09 Oct 2012 00:06

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Looking North towards Ursa Major.
All reflected in Loch Leven.
20mm Lens F3.5 – 80 sec – ISO1600
09 Oct 2012 00:28

Then again yesterday evening we had the main performance. I was too mesmerised to take any further photos. Sometimes you just have to stand and stare at nature’s beauty.

As I write this Annie and I have again seen the sky glowing green on the Eastern horizon. We’re hoping to see natures fireworks for the 3rd night in a row…

About Andy Harpur

Interests : The Scottish Highlands, The Pennine Alps, The Milky Way, Abbot Ale, Mountaineering, Climbing, Mountain Biking, Canoeing, Sea Kayaking, Astronomy, Guitar, Penny Whistle. I live and breath for the outdoor lifestyle. New places, new faces, new adventures....
This entry was posted in Astronomy, Nature, Photography and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Nature’s Fireworks

  1. godmadeknown says:

    We have just been studying what causes the Aurora Borealis so I was excited to show our boys your pictures. Thank you so much for including and identifying the constellations as well. Nice touch!

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