Mir and I went on an unexpected aurora chase following the NASTRO meeting last night. Conditions weren't great: an almost full moon washed out the northern sky. If not for that this would have been one the best displays of the year.
Here's a panorama taken from the dunes at Low Hauxley. The lights of Amble on the left and the lighthouse on Coquet Island on the right.
The shimmering activity died away shortly after this picture was taken leaving a steady green arc of light. The picture below was taken near Warkworth from the bank of the river Coquet.
.We're heading towards an equinox so hopefully conditions for aurora chasing will improve and the moon will soon depart the evening sky.
An unexpectedly dramatic display of Northern Lights was visible in many parts of the UK on February 27th.
For me it was the best auroral show of the current solar cycle - although I suspect we've missed one or two like this because of bad weather in the last couple of years.
The aurora was visible as a pale arc of light towards the north during the early evening. By the time me and my Dad had driven to the coast at Low Hauxley the light and colours were intensifying and climbing higher into the sky. The peak of the display was probably between 8 and 9pm and the red rays extended almost to the zenith. The intensity of the red reminded me of something I'd read while researching the aurora for a presentation a few years back:
This same year was seen a bloody welkin oft-times in the likeness of fire; and that was most apparent at midnight, and so in misty beams was shown; but when it began to dawn, then it glided away.
That's an entry from the Anglo Saxon Chronicle from 979AD describing a dramatic aurora. Welkin is an archaic English word for the sky - or rather, the celestial sphere.
More pictures from that evening can be found on my Flickr photostream.
Dr Adrian Jannetta
Guitar strummin' explorer of the universe. Mild mannered maths teacher by day and astronomer by night.