Friday, 25 November 2016

Good show

On Tuesday the conditions for seeing the aurora seemed good, a reasonably clear night, fairly calm for Shetland and last quarter  visible moon. The only thing it was cold, very cold. So i wrapped up, two pairs of socks, tea-shirt, shirt, two jumpers, body warmer and thick coat, hat and gloves.

                                                                                    Just a faint green glow at first

 As ice was expected we went over to Bigton early and the journey was not too bad at 7.30 pm. The aurora was already showing on Shetland cliff cam 3, a bright green glow and it was estimated to be a KP5 tonight so things looked promising.

We were soon in position and the aurora was already visible before our eyes adjusted to the dark. A green band arched over Bigton and Ireland and grew in colour as the evening progressed

The aurora started to show a pink, then red colour with some purple as well, it was becoming a great show, even though it was very, very cold.

About 9 pm a car pulled up and two people got out and started to talk loudly in Russian, perhaps they didn't see me standing about 30 yards away. Now had we been invaded tonight ? Russian bombers had to be escorted away from Shetland airspace and a fleet of Russian warships came very close to Shetland waters recently.

                                                                                              Very active for a while

They may have become excited by the aurora and forgot to turn their car lights off . Then one person decided to get a tripod out and tried to hold it with the camera on, rather than setting it up properly.

Cloud rolled in about  9.30 pm and it started to rain a bit so we set off back and found the road from Bigton back to the A970 very icy.

Getting back home we checked the internet to find out the further south it had become even more active after 9.35 pm

Still time to purchase a canvas from in time for Christmas

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Moon washed aurora

At last a break in the cloud and rain free night with only a Force 3 wind. That's good for Shetland so we headed out  last night knowing that the Aurora forecast was around a KP5

                                                                                                 St Ninian's Tombolo

We arrived at a reasonably dark site, well normally until you take into account a near full moon that was brightening all the landscape. Tomorrow it will be a Super Moon (although looking at the weather for tomorrow it looks like rain so i doubt whether we will see it in Shetland

                                                                           A pillar of light, game on !

While the moon provided good detail in the landscape it was washing out any aurora that might appear in the sky, except i could just make out a pillar of light.

To show how bright it was on the night i was using ISO 500 15 seconds at F/3.2, unlike the last time we went out and I was having to use ISO 3200 together with some light painting

The pillar of colour did expand for a minute or so then faded away. This is typical aurora activity, some bursts of activity are very short while others last hours.

With several dark sites only around 15 mins away we are well placed to get there fast.

Still looking for that mind blowing aurora but i am sure it will come soon, however any aurora nights are worth seeing , hopefully getting some photos as well

Looking south from Bigton is St Ninian's tombolo, this looks good in the day and at night

Just an update, the Night Sky course i am running on 11 April 2017 for Shetland Adult Education is now full and the Intermediate Photography Course which includes a session on Astrophotography starting at the end of February 2017 is also full.

You still have time to buy a canvas for Christmas, see full details at