Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Aurora activity in Shetland

During the day we tend to be able to pick out long distant objects with our eyes, but its a different thing at night. Our eyes are just not good enough, and have a difficult time picking out colours.

Before going to the opticians I thought i had good eyes, but after they said i needed glasses because i couldn't read  a number plate I had to point out that I could see the moon, some 384,000 Km away. It made no difference and I came out with glasses- should really have eaten all those carrots when I was young.

The difference in our day / night sight is all down to the number of Cones and Rods that are located in each eye. The Rods are needed for night vision we have around 120 million but these are not colour sensitive this is why we sometimes we cannot see a faint aurora. Luckily the sensor on our camera is far more sensitive so when in doubt take a quick photo on a high ISO and check activity

The other day I received an alert for aurora activity, this time at KP4. It was a bit cloudy as I set out, ice on the  road got me thinking that I would stay close to home so I set off down to Sandsayre. With little light pollution from the Moon, I only had Cunningsburgh lights to contend with.

It was disappointing to find out that the council had recently replaced most of the lights in Cunningsburgh with sodium and not LED power, well only several LED which have not made much difference, cannot understand the logic behind this.

On arriving at Sandsayre I opened the boot to find that the attachment for the tripod was missing then I realised that it was still attached to my 300 mm lens. I made do with the seawalls and gained a few faint aurora photos, this was out 7th aurora since arriving in Shetland.

I never get tired of seeing it, that green glow is something most people would be glad to see. Many spending hundreds if not thousands of pounds in search of the aurora. Now we are in Shetland we can react quickly to an alert , things change so fast with aurora's and of course lets not forget that cloud cover that can make it difficult to see.

I have often stood outside, knowing that a KP5 or KP6 is present above us but not being able to see it for the cloud or even if it occurs in daylight.I feel sorry for those people who have to book an aurora flight months up front not even knowing that there will be any solar activity.

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