It’s getting to that time of year again. The days are shorter than the nights. Just perfect for cosying up in front of the fire or getting out and looking upwards!
This season often brings with it clear nights. With little light pollution, there are many opportunities to see the night sky clearly. With some forward planning and a bit of luck as well, you may get to experience the magical Aurora Borealis (Northern lights), photographed here by Derek Stewart at Duffus Castle in September 2015. The West Beach at Lossiemouth is another popular spot and you are unlikely to be alone. Or try by the small lighthouse at the harbour in Cullen or by the dolphin statue at Portsoy. Looking north across the Moray Firth with amongst the lowest levels of light pollution in Europe means the view of our skies can be truly spectacular. Try to plan your visit to avoid a big moon as this makes capturing auroras difficult and download the Glendale Skye aurora app from their website Aurora Alerts.
SIGMA – Moray’s Astronomy Club regularly issues Aurora Borealis Alerts for the Moray area as well as photos (and advice on how to take the best northern lights photos.)
Northern Nights Moray is a useful resource and is pretty responsive if you have any specific queries.
The Facebook group Aurora Research Scotland is another good one to watch if you want to increase your chances.
Sightings of course are never guaranteed. If you find yourself here through the Autumn and winter tho’ – and you have a clear evening – you have a better chance here than any where else in the UK. So bundle up, wee dram in hand, binoculars, phone and/or camera at the ready and find yourself a dark spot or head out onto the beach. With some luck and patience the northern lights are a pretty amazing sight.
Good luck stargazing!