The Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis as seen from 52 degrees North
The Aurora Borealis as seen from 52 degrees North

The past week has seen my phone emit a flurry of chirps, beeps and flashing LEDs. They have been alerts from Twitter or from an Aurora Watch UK app. Most of the them have been yellow alerts with the occasional amber alert, letting me know that there is a slim possibility of seeing the aurora or Northern Lights.

The Aurora Borealis or Northern lights are beautiful visual displays in the night sky. They are caused by charged particles from the sun interacting with earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere and usually occur over the high northern latitudes or corresponding latitudes in the southern hemisphere.

The southern half of Ireland isn’t somewhere that immediately springs to mind when looking for aurora, but needs must, and I have been on the hunt for aurora from my home outside Killarney for the past number of years, with limited success. In reality, we are a few hundred miles too far south to be in with a good chance of seeing aurora, but bright displays of aurora have been seen from here‚Äč before and so I live in hope.

I have yet to see the wonderful green and purple colours synonymous with aurora, but I have captured them photographically. I have seen faint glows and shimmers in the sky on occasion, but nothing breathtaking as of yet. I’m still waiting for the big one, so give me a red alert and a clear moonless night and I will be out the door in a flash, camera in hand looking at the northern sky.

To join in the fun, download an aurora alert app for your phone and sit back and wait. Who knows, the next alert could be the one.