Chasing Ireland’s Northern Lights

One of the more iconic images taken in January 2012 provided by <a href="https://www.facebook.com/inishowen.art.9?fref=ts" >Adam Rory Porter</a>
One of the more iconic images taken in January 2012 provided by Adam Rory Porter

Most of us can only dream of seeing the Northern Lights with our own eyes however the Aurora has been visible in Irish skies in 2012, 2013 and most recently, February 2014. Thankfully, these photographers were on hand to capture the magic for us

There’s no light show in the world like it. No amount of modern shimmering screens, zapping lasers or spinning disco balls can match mother nature’s sky show: The Northern Lights. Think the Aurora Borealis and you probably imagine setting your compass for spots like Scandinavia, North America or Greenland.

As one tiny coastal community will tell you, though, there’s more where that came from.

The greening

It's February 2014. Over Donegal’s most northern skies a mystical hue has taken County Donegal residents by surprise as they looked out over Malin Head.

It couldn’t be, could it?

There was, however, no denying it. This was the Aurora Borealis. But how, and why? According to local tourism group Visit Inishowen, “the Aurora Borealis has its best chance of being seen in more than a decade because of a peak in the sun's activity.” This means we’re looking at a few years of such remarkable sightings.

When Can I See the Northern Lights in Ireland?

Although we cannot guarantee that you will see the Northern Lights whilst in Ireland there are websites such as spaceweather.com which will send out alerts of when you are likely to see the lights in Ireland.

You can also visit the website of Astronomy Ireland to learn more on the Northern Lights in Ireland.

Bren Whelan's Aurora experience

Bren Whelan took his astounding shots on Pollen Beach, Inishowen, while looking towards Malin Town and Malin Head. Both images were taken on 23 January 2012 at about 1:00am, and involved about 20 minutes of exposure time. Bren says “The name 'Glashedy' translates to 'The Island of the Green Cloak', a name which suited this special January night, as Inishowen lay beneath one of nature's most beautiful solar cloaks, the Aurora Borealis.”

Pollen Beach, Inishowen  

Photo courtesy of Bren Whelan

Adam Rory Porter's advice

Adam Rory Porter was another fortunate photographer in the right place at the right time: “To see the Northern Lights appear on your camera’s LCD screen is wonderful, as is viewing them on a laptop or PC when you get home from the darkness. But to see them with your own eyes whilst out under the skies in Inishowen is something else...”

He advises the following to potential photographers, “camera setting are usually in the 800 iso to 3200 iso region, f4, f2.8 or faster aperture and a shutter speed of 20 seconds plus.”

Photo courtesy of Adam Rory Porter