Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Aurora at Sandwick

The other night it was a reasonable clear sky but we had visitors and they only left as the Orange Aurora alert came out. Knowing the stats were on the increase i quickly headed down to Sandsayre at Leebitton, Shetland

 Its only 5 mins away, my other preferred locations are a good 15 mins away and as cloud was rolling in i didn't want to chance missing the Aurora

 Looking north from the jetty towards the light polluted Cunningsburgh

 Waves came crashing over the jetty and i just dodged out of the way in time.

 The lights became brighter and started to dance for a short time before levelling off.

Looking up to Leebitton from Sand Lodge, Sandwick

Sandlodge at Sandsayre, Sandwick

It was good to meet everyone who started the Night Sky photography course the following day, a good range of experience

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

`Steve' returns

For the third time in about a year `Steve' returned to Shetland. On the 7 October 2018 `Steve' was seen over Sandness on the west side during a brief gap in the clouds. The arrival coincided with a Severe Aurora alert and was also see in Orkney

Originally Steve was thought to be a rare Aurora but a recent study claims that in fact it is an unknown Phenomenon which is baffling scientists.

 Although Steve ( Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancer) has been know for about 100 years its only recently that studies have found its nothing to do with the Aurora. Steve can be identified as a ribbon like purple emission during an aurora but slightly south to the Auroral band

In 2016 the Scientific community started to study Steve, originally thought to be a proton arc. Now the study has said it may be a kind of `skyglow' not associated with either the Aurora or airglow. Skyglow is normally associated with light pollution but Steve is structured and distinct.

Steve is massive, stretching east - west for thousands of miles and tens of miles wide north to south, a very impressive and a rare sight in the northern skies

Steve then re appeared in another big storm a few days later, that's the fourth time Steve has been seen in Shetland in the last year.

Sunday, 30 September 2018

Moon Composite

Was hoping that we would have had some clear nights by now, already two or so weeks into the Aurora season. There has been a number of nights that the Aurora has been visible but it has been showing in the middle of the night

Also the wind has been a major problem with a number of days at Force 6 -7 so no good for photography often with heavy rain

So its been back to the computer and trying to be creative with the enclosed composite images, where two photos are combined.

People may not like this but it is often done in astrophotography, take star trails you might combine 120 images to create one. HDR often use 3 or 5 images to bring out detail in shadows or highlights

People also take multiple photos of stars or the milky way and combine to reveal more stars and detail
The last two photos are down at Park Hall near Bixter, an iconic place in Shetland.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Aurora Reminders

We are now getting closer to the solar minimum and as a result we should get less aurora activity. The sun is again spotless making this the 133rd day so far this year, you have to go back to 2009 to find a period like this and this was the deepest solar minimum this century.

Already this period we have had a couple of nights when the Aurora  has shown but this was around 2.00am , too late for me. I always think of September as the start of the season with the nights drawing in so any observations can be at a reasonable time.

The photos shown here are from last season and we had some crackers including these taken at Bigton

`Steve' also made an appearance and was totally unexpected and it still sparks of conversations among the hunters. Too many people made the mistake of trying to get round a lot of locations and spent too much time in the car rather than photographing.

The appearance of `Steve' is usually one arc but two could be seen, a rare sight indeed. The green usually associated with the arc can be seen in the lower on in the above photo.

To keep up to-date join us at Shetland Aurora Hunter on facebook just send me a request to join.

High energy can be seen in these photos and was easily visibleto the naked eye, it certainly was fast moving and for me was one of the best Aurora nights I have experienced

If you want to join me on a course to photograph the night sky, then book the one below which will be held in Lerwick, Shetland in November/ December. Only a few places available so book soon

Image may contain: text

Sunday, 10 June 2018

Super Crescent & Shetland Space race

Earlier in May you may have seen a Super Crescent Moon with Venus close by to the top right a nice sight indeed on a clear night in the western sky.

It might seem that the moon was extra bright and you would be correct as it is a `Supermoon'. The Moon is at Perigee-that is , the side if the moon's elliptical orbit closest to Earth. This actually makes the moon 5% wider and almost 11% brighter.

The term Supermoon also applies to crescents as well as full Moons. We didn't see the Da Vinci Glow, also known as earth shine. This is where the sunlight reflects from the earth onto the dark lunar surface. In the northern Hemisphere, Earthshine is extra visible in spring because springtime crescent moons are high in the sky at sunset

Will Shetland be chosen for the location of the UK satellite launch pad ?, well we are down to three sites. Saxa Vord in Unst is one and the winner will be announced on the 12 June. Last week Shetland Space Centre hosted an event to introduce the locals to representatives of the UK and International space industry.

Would be great to have this in Shetland so good luck to all involved. If successful it would be operational in two years time. Shetland has a history of delivering huge infrastructure projects and the fact the  RAF have a secured site at the early warning facility at Saxa Vord all bodes well for the island.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Tingwall stars

Nights are now drawing out and we have very little darkness. The Aurora has been visible very late on but only captured by a few folk.

                      We had been visiting up at Tingwall and took advantage of a clear night with very little wind

The wind turbines cast a red reflection on Asta Loch, but to see 103 Turbines looking north would certainly be a blight on the landscape and would show up on every Aurora photograph so I hope they never get started

Although not completely dark I like the blue sky and you can also use a lower ISO which helps reduce noise.

Looking south to Scalloway, light pollution is clearly visible, especially now LED lights have been installed

                                                                                                   Looking west

          Just waited for car headlights to light up the old vicarage which adds a lot of depth to the photo

                                                                                      Another looking West

To keep up with the vents in the Shetland Night Sky join  us on facebook at Shetland Aurora Hunter.

Don't forget my new blog with many Shetland links