The aurora is caused by material thrown out from the sun interacting with the earth’s magnetic field, producing light from energised gas molecules in the upper atmosphere. Best known as the Northern Lights, this phenomenon lights up the night sky with an uncanny display of colours. Varying from a green glow on the horizon, a shimmering luminescent curtain , to streaming fronds of red and yellow light , this is an experience you will not forget.
Read our guest blog by photographer Gary Macleod on Northern Lights photography.
At the Spring and Autumn equinoxes, promontories and harbours along the north coast offer prime viewing sites or join Caithness Astronomy Group at Castlehill Heritage Centre, which has been awarded a designated “ Dark Sky” status. At this safe spot with all facilities but without light pollution, Caithness Astronomy Group offer guided star observation in the courtyard followed by fascinating talks and presentations by visiting authorities and local enthusiasts.
An aurora sighting is never certain but there are several groups and apps which help track forecasts and report sightings to help you maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights:
Aurora forecasts and alerts:
Check out the Astronomy Group’s programme on SpangleFish.