At last a decent aurora show on a cloudless night in Northern Ireland!
After watching on - appropriately green with envy - as my fellow aurora chasers in Great Britain enjoyed a series of spectacular displays over the past 6 weeks or so, last night all the aurora ducks aligned: a big aurora show on a night when the skies were clear above.
As soon as I arrived at Slemish, there already was a band of bright green shining brightly on camera when I took my first shots. At this stage, there was no structure, simply the homogenous green glow. But its brightness and the aurora stats gave me hope that it wouldn't be too long till the sky exploded into life and the aurora shot pillars up into the sky.
And, as I waited, the skies around me remained gloriously clear. Not a sign of any clouds, and the swathe of the Milky Way stretched gloriously above my head. I was giddy with anticipation - was this going to be my first structured display since the stunning Mid Summer's Aurora last June?
I didn't have to wait too long. Around 10.15 or so I began to see the first glimpses of aurora pillars, distinctly visible to the naked eye. And on camera they were even more impressive, with purple rays stretching skywards out of the vivid green band. This photo was taken with my ultra wide lens- the rays reaching about 40 degrees into the sky (tilt your head back that far an imagine how high the rays must be reaching!) It was great to see these again, and of course I celebrated with my customary aurora jig!
After the rays died back down again, another feature developed. The green band intensified in colour and I was able to dial the ISO way back down to 640. The light became bright enough for me to be able to discern a faint green tinge with the naked eye. On camera, the aurora shone brightly and intensely. I was seeing the top of a snaking aurora arc, and I could see it slowly slithering around the sky just above the horizon.
After about 30 minutes or so, the display began to die back a bit. But it had one last hurrah, as a meteor streaked through the remnants of one of the final pillars of light.
I'm not going to lie. It's be a frustrating few weeks missing out on the aurora shows because of cloud. But last night more than made up for it - and it whetted my appetite for many more glorious shows in the months to come!
Short time lapse of the display to show how dynamic the northern lights were.