Here is my latest aurora photograph in the Daily Mail...
A high pressure spell with a 4-5 day stretch of clear skies in mid October provided a great opportunity to do some dark sky time lapse sequences along with experiencing the night sky and potential northern lights as we are in 'aurora season'.
|Aurora with the trail of the stars looking over the Sound of Mull...|
On Saturday 12th I was at Glengorm estate and after a spectacular sunset I was waiting for the stars to appear so I could capture the bronze age stone circle in the sequence. I try to do most of my photography during the 'blue hour' at dusk when the sky comes out a nice shade of blue on the camera as the sunset remains disappear. It was the second time I had attempted to photograph the stone circle and I chose a different angle looking north westerly and with a weaker 35% moon this time. I shot 300 frames and my star trail version can be seen below.
On the wildlife front there was a Barn owl calling along with Snipe and the bellowing Red Deer around the estate were incredible on a windless night.
|Traffic trail down near Pennyghael...|
|Loch Schridain star trail...|
On the Sunday night I managed to cover another four locations as the clear skies continued and my body clock was turning nocturnal. I received reports of a CME been released by the increasingly active sun and it was earth facing so I knew of a chance of aurora borealis been viewed in the days to follow.
On Monday with a CME predicted to buffer earths atmosphere it meant I just had to work the north shore of the isle looking in a northerly direction. I got in place early and got a time lapse going from dusk to darkness and a green band appeared which really got going for a 5-10 minute spell showing a green high rising halo with the naked eye! During the strong display there was a huge flash which lit up the surrounding landscape and as I looked around to the south I caught the last second of a fireball burning up in the atmosphere! The biggest meteor I have ever seen!...what a spell!...I feel sorry for all those folk stuck in the pub that evening...nothing beats nature.
Solid cloud moved in as was forecast and I headed south back to Salen and continued to get reports of aurora activity so I headed to Salen pier for about 2am and staked out and hoped the forecast stayed true and the skies would clear. At around 3am the skies started to shift to the west and open up the starlit skies again and a nice pale aurora band appeared with dancing columns before easing off again at 4-5am. I managed a time lapse sequence and the star trail image can be seen above.
I waited around for another couple of hours doing some stargazing while the camera was grafting and the sun started to appear to the east so I photographed the sunrise as well! what a great night...stunning sunset, stunning aurora, stunning meteors, stunning starlit sky and a stunning sunrise to finish.
|Aurora at 21:30...In my experience the aurora seems to have more colouration when strong moonlight present|
|Glengorm stone circle star trail...|
|My aurora photograph in The Times newspaper...|
|Light pollution map of Europe...The Hebrides, Northumberland and D&G prime areas for dark skies...|
|The fireball at half 9 Monday night from Skye...photo courtesy of Marcus Mcadam|
I got a couple of hours sleep on Monday during the day and I was fresh again for another night shift. I covered some sites in the south of the isle including waterfalls and boat wrecks which produced good points of interest. There was a full hunters moon (when huntsman used to use the strong moonlight to kill nocturnal species for a winter food source) to produce a nice painted landscape and shorter exposure times for my frames so I managed 6 locations throughout the night before retreating home at 5am. It was owl city on the night with sightings of Long-eared, Short-eared, Tawny and Barn owls.
Some great nights with the stars...An amazing atmosphere and I felt like the only person on the isle...
I was contacted by the national media after my photos were seen on facebook and my aurora picture over the Sound of Mull made it into The Times and the Daily Mail which was a nice bonus. Thanks to Will Lyon for the story.