Tuesday, 9 October 2012

The Northern Lights and another mountain sunrise

The Northern Lights over Rannoch Moor, 8th Oct 2012

For pretty much my whole life, the thing in the world I have wanted to see the most is the Aurora Borealis. I have always had a near obsession with everything "North", the climate, the landscapes…and the Northern Lights have always seemed to be the ultimate expression of these wild and cold places.

I've been very fortunate to have seen some incredible displays of lighting and atmosphere during my time in Scotland…snow-bows, brocken spectres, cloud inversions, moon halos…but the one thing that has always eluded me are the Northern Lights.

Night time in Coire nan Lochan

Last night I found an automated email from aurora-watch UK telling me there was a moderate change of a display of the Lights over Scotland. So within minutes I was charging down the glen in my car towards Rannoch Moor with my camera. 

I waited for a while. Nothing much happening. But a long, pale, colourless streak could just about be seen making it's way across the sky. It didn't last long….and I had to rush back to finish off the last bit of my shift.

But as soon as I was finished I was back out on Rannoch Moor again, waiting with my camera under a cold and incredibly clear sky. Within a few minutes, I saw it.

A pale band of light spanning the horizon, very unlike the usual colourful photos you see of the Aurora. 

So I waited, for 2 hours I waited….and for 5 short but unforgettable minutes, the green "Merry Dancers" pranced across the northern sky. I stood transfixed, in disbelief that I was finally, finally seeing the thing I've so wanted to see for so many years. 

Dawn over Stob na Broige

At about 2am I made my way back home, getting startled on the way by a massive shooting star which left an orange trail across the sky. I was buzzing. There was no way I was going to sleep after that, and the clear sky promised a beautiful dawn…

Second amazing sunrise in 3 days.

So off up Stob Coire nan Lochan I headed, and was treated to another beautiful and cold sunrise. An amazing few hours which I will remember for a very long time.


1 comment:

  1. Hi James, Like you, I've waited my whole life to see the Northern Lights. I thought I'd had a good view down on Loch Leven (some photos on my blog), but it looks like you had it much better up on Rannoch Moor. There was a better display on Tues 9th too...