It’s been a busy weekend, with a trip to Glasgow for the We Walk, We Cycle, We Vote training day – which was a blast but also a lot of organising (oh okay, someone else did the organising, I just fired off a few emails and tweets to spread the word and then shared in the praise when it all went off incredibly smoothly) – and so I was just enjoying being collapsed on the sofa with the woodburner going on Sunday evening when a post on Facebook suggested I should get outside and look north because the northern lights were visible in Bigtown which meant they should be even more visible out here.
We’ve been hoping to see the northern lights ever since we moved up here, but so far all we’ve managed has been a faint and somewhat ambiguous glow. Yesterday evening looked as if it wasn’t going to be much different – the sky to the north was definitely lighter than it should have been but it wasn’t the glowing dancing green lights that you see in the photographs of the aurora borealis. However it was a dark night and a clear sky, so we perservered (having gone back in and put on our coats and checked that nothing was boiling over on the stove) and this time we were rewarded with a definite greenish cast to the light and a few vertical streaks which came and went imperceptibly as we watched.
I’ve a feeling that the more spectacular photos – at least this far south – are partly down to long exposure times and look a little bit more impressive than what you actually see for yourself at the time. I did test this theory by trying to take a picture with my phone but it doesn’t actually have a long exposure setting, and I can tell you now that using the ‘fireworks mode’ doesn’t work…
The stars, on the other hand, were something else. With no moon and a cold clear frosty night they glittered as we passed under the bare branches of the trees on our way back to house. We really don’t spend enough time appreciating the amazing dark skies we have, with or without any geomagnetic additions
Or, indeed, the strange light that has been appearing during daylight hours these last few days