Aurora Borealis seen from Cumbria last Friday night…

After a lot of activity on the Sun sent a large amount of solar material thundering towards Earth, I put out an AURORA ALERT!! email at the end of last week, urging EAS members to keep an eye on the sky for the northern lights over the following few nights. There was a lot of hype about the possibility of seeing the northern lights on Friday and Saturday night, so I was very careful not to get everyone’s hopes up too much! And, true enough, when the much-anticipated “solar storm” arrived it was rather underwhelming. A combination of a (still!!! When will it go away!!! It’s been there for weeks!!!!) Full Moon and misty murky weather meant that the aurora wasn’t seen very well across any of the UK really, and the aurora itself never really got going because the conditions “Up there” just weren’t conducive to triggering a major storm.

But still, the aurora was visible from Cumbria last Friday night, so I hope some of you saw it!

I know that at least a few EAS members did see it, because two different groups of us went out aurora-hunting that night, and were successful. After monitoring the weather forecasts all day it looked like Langwathby, near Penrith, offered the best prospects for viewing, with clear sky through from 23.00 to 03.00, so Stella and I headed there, to join Martin Thomas. Sadly the mist and murk we found when we got there never really lifted, and lit by that almost Full Moon it was pretty poor. There was a vague naked eye glow to the north, which picked up on photos, and I even got a hint of a few rays early on, but the main thing we saw was a pale, vague, greenish glow, as you can see from these images…

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So, yes… it was great to see Martin again, and fun to talk to several people who joined us in our misty, murky, moonlit, light-polluted field to look for the aurora, but all in all it was, I have to be honest, a big let down. But that’s the way it goes, and there is always the possibility of this happening with the aurora, so better luck next time…!

Meanwhile, up at Orton Scar, high above the mist and with no light pollution to wrestle with, EAS members Ian Bradley and Carol Grayson were having MUCH better luck, and got some really nice photos. I’ll leave it to them to post those here themselves, then they can say a little about what they show, but they put mine to shame! Orton Scar is a FANTASTIC site, and will definitely become an EAS observing site for future events; it looks perfect for meteor shower observing…

The next chance to see the northern lights from Cumbria might come on Tuesday night. Watch this space for details!

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